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Agent Orange and Esophageal Cancer

Updated on December 16, 2012

Never Forget


The Chief's Story Continues

My father has been battling esophageal cancer now for 26 months. The risk factors for this cancer are: heavy drinking, obesity, smoking, and asbestos exposure. My 73 year old father had none of the risk factors for developing this cancer. As a matter of fact, I have not been able to find a single case of cancer in either side of his family going back 5 generations. Something in my father's life had put him at risk for this disease and I spent all of 2 minutes on the computer finding it.

My father is a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran. He was stationed there during Operation ranch Hand, the name of the Agent Orange campaign. Agent Orange and Agent Yellow were used to defoliate the jungle and riverbanks in Vietnam. This operation undoubtedly saved American lives by denying the Viet Cong coverage for attacks on US troops. However these agents were known dioxins and the government and the chemical companies knew of their dangers. This information was suppressed and veterans from this war and the Korean war were unaware of the exposure to these dioxins for years.

In one of those quirky ironies of war, it was Admiral Elmo Zumwalt who sounded the alarm about the health hazards of agents orange and the other dioxins used in Vietnam and to a lesser extent in Korea, he was also the Admiral who ordered its use during the Vietnam war! His own son died of lymphoma in 1988, and Admiral Zumwalt was convinced that the cancer was the result of exposure to agent orange. Admiral Zumwalt used his rank and reputation to make congress and the public aware of the deadly side effects of Agent Orange.

I knew my father had been exposed during Operation Ranch Hand, but Esophageal Cancer is not listed as a presumptive illness, so he will not receive any compensation for this cancer. I googled "Agent Orange and Esophageal Cancer" and was shocked by the number of Vietnam Vets who have developed this cancer. I read message boards and comments off of Vet sites and I am now thoroughly convinced that Agent Orange played a significant role in my father's esophageal cancer. I one of thousands who believe all gastric cancers must be added to the presumptive diseases list. H.R. Bill 6798 would do just that.

Of course none of that will help my father right now. He still fights on like the good soldier he is and will always be. The courage and bravery that served him well in Vietnam now help him and us in this war we wage on his cancer. It is very strange and very sad that after all these years, Vietnam is killing my father.


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      ShannaKee 3 years ago

      My father passed away January 6th. He was a brave man and a faithful servant to the United States of America. I intend to reapply for my mother's sake. I encourage other agent orange veterans to get checked for esophageal cancer and other gastric cancers. My dad deserved better.

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      dean1950 3 years ago

      My father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer June 11, 2013 and he served in the Vietnam War. My father passed away December 19, 2013. I have filed paper work with VA. I heard back yesterday saying the needed more medical information. I have did a lot of research on esophageal cancer related to agent orange. I don't understand how this cancer can't be recognize.

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      Richard C. Sanchez 3 years ago

      I myself had Esophageal Cancer I served DaNang in 1969-1970 I'm in remission.

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      Mrussell3 4 years ago

      My husband 65 was just diagnosed with Esophagus Cancer stage 3, never smoked or drank. He served in Da nang and I believe that is where he got this.

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      Colette 4 years ago

      My 67 year old father was diagnosed with asophageal cancer. He is an army veteran and was exposed to agent orange. My dad has never smoked a day in his life and is a VERY light drinker. What I don't get is our loved ones fight for our country and then the V.A. shits on them when they need help.

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      Montina64 4 years ago from Montana

      I agree that agent orange will affect more Vietmanese than Americans. There is a task force that is working to compensate those effected by defoliants used during the war. The hang up is how to do so without excepting blame or responsibility. Our government like most other governments has a real problem with that. Also my choice of words was poorly chosen. I can see how this is offensive to you.And you should know my father and every other veteran of the Vietnam war that i have discussed agent orange with, has expressed deep concerns for the Vietman people. My father has told me how blessed he feels to have the medical care he has and how he knows it is different for the people killed who were poisoned in Vietnam.

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      Len Aldis 4 years ago

      Sorry to read of the illness of your father as I am of the millions of Vietnamese also suffering from the effects of Agent Orange used by American Forces, in addition to the many thousands of Vietnamese that have died.

      Must disagree with your comment "Vietnam is killing my father." it was the US Government that ordered the use of Agent Orange on a country that had not attacked your country in any way. So the blame rests on the US. They have to accept responsibility for Agent Orange nor have they made any compensation to the Vietnamese.