What is it with people’s reluctance to get a second opinion on medical issues? I am alive today because a friend of mine convinced me that was the smart thing to do.

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. My local doctor said, “If you were my father, I would not put you through chemo and radiation. We will give you palliative care.”

If I had listened to him, I would have been in Calvary Cemetery four years ago. Instead, my good friend sent me to Mass General, where I got into a clinical trial. Some four years later, I believe I’m cancer-free.

I have been a member of the Maine Buddy program run out of the Cancer Community Center in South Portland. That program links up folks who have had cancer and survived with those who have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer. And a wonderful program it is. Hopefully, the survivors can provide some help to those just starting a recovery program.

I have had three “Maine Buddies” in the last two years who have had esophageal cancer. All three chose not to get a second opinion. All three are now dead.

Would that second opinion have made a difference? Nobody knows. But I know most of us putting an addition on our house would probably get more than one opinion/estimate. And generally speaking, the medical costs will be far more than a home addition – and it may mean your life.

Believe me, your doctor will not be upset. He would probably do the same if he were in the same position. So please make certain you get that second or third opinion.

Sam Kelley

Scarborough