Geoff’s Story – Barrett’s Oesophagus and Diverticulosis

Barrett’s oesophagus is the term used for a potentially pre-cancerous condition where the normal cells lining the oesophagus (also known as the gullet or food pipe) have been replaced with abnormal cells.

Tell us a little bit about youGeoff is wearing a dark blue cardigan with a grey polo top smiling at the camera. His wife is stood next to him holding their chestnut cockapoo. They are stood in front of the back of their red brick layered house.

I’m Geoff, I live on the South Coast and have done for over 30 years with my wife Tracy. We’ve been happily married for nearly 40 years and have two grown-up children, Kelly our daughter who is 36, and Jordan our son who is 31 this year. 

I work in insurance as part of a digital team with a company I’ve worked with for 10 years, which I really enjoy. In my spare time, I study mindfulness and wellbeing, enjoy the garden, photography, and walking on the coast with our cockapoo Alfie.

When did your symptoms begin? 

Geoff is taking a selfie and smiling at the camera at home. He is wearing a black hoodie.

Around five years ago, I had ongoing stomach pains that came and went sporadically. Eventually, my doctor sent me for a colonoscopy (camera to look at my bowel) which gave me a diagnosis of diverticulosis (pockets in my bowel). 

I left the colonoscopy with no support, and was told to ‘watch my diet’. I’d always been relatively healthy and really into fitness. I went online and the internet told me to restrict certain foods, then bring them back into my diet to see if I had a reaction. 

My doctor asked if I had any other symptoms, where I explained my persistent cough. I was sent for an urgent endoscopy (camera down the throat). The consultant told me my oesophagus was damaged and in a poor state. He told me to refrain from drinking alcohol, and he would do another endoscopy in three months. 

In those three months, I stopped drinking and I started eating less foods that would give me heartburn. Three months later, the consultant could see the difference. Six years on, I still don’t drink alcohol.”

Geoff is sat outside on the patio surrounded by greenery smiling at the camera. He has his legs crossed and hands overlapping on one another while placed on the wooden table. He is wearing black sunglasses, black t shirt with beige shorts.


Talk us through your most recent diagnosis 

Around a year ago, I was diagnosed at another endoscopy with Barrett’s oesophagus. I am now booked in for endoscopies every few years to monitor the Barrett’s and check for cell changes that might indicate oesophageal cancer. I was told to watch my diet but given little to no direction or support.

Geoff is sat smiling facing the camera in a rustic restaurant with his left arm wrapped around his wife. They are sat down behind a wooden table with two wine glasses and cutlery on top. Geoff is wearing his black long-sleeved polo top that is slightly unzipped in front.

How are you now?

I continue to get flare ups where my diverticula pouches become infected and I become more unwell, spending days in bed sometimes.

At one point, I was introduced to a dietitian on the NHS who has been brilliant, and Guts UK make it bearable too. I continue to work full time, with frequent breaks due to flare-ups and exhaustion. 

I have had a long journey with health. When I was 12 years old, I lost the sight in my left eye due to a blood clot on the brain. I was attacked at work as a Restaurant Manager, ending up with a broken cheekbone, fractured eye socket and broken jaw. I’ve been involved in two accidents, one causing severe head injuries and brain damage, and the other leaving me with leg trauma, PTSD and I had to learn to walk again. 

Geoff is wearing the Guts UK blue t-shirt with a burgundy jacket on top. He is stood smiling at the camera stood under a bushy garden hedge.

There is a camaraderie amongst fellow sufferers on social media, which keeps me going. I’m a mindfulness and wellbeing instructor, and mental health first aider, so it helps me through, and helps me help others too.

I’ve recently had a skin cancer diagnosis, but I’ve signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Guts UK Charity.

It gives me so much encouragement and motivation to get through the next few months, and smash by goals by October!

Geoff is stood in the centre on the street in front of a restaurant. He is smiling wearing his black trench coat and coloured pattern scarf. He is stood beside 4 of his family members all smiling.

Several research areas are needed to improve the treatment of Barrett’s oesophagus. Early diagnosis is a key strategy in cancer research, and work using non-endoscopic methods to find Barrett’s includes saliva biomarkers, breath testing, and the newly introduced Cytosponge©. Blood markers for identification of Barrett’s oesophagus are also being considered, but much more research and trials are needed before these can be used.

Guts UK can only continue helping and reaching people like Geoff with your support. Please donate to Guts UK today. Together, we will get to grips with guts! Thank you.