Changing a PEG tube’s dressing can be awkward, messy and a dread to face every day.

A cancer survivor explains how to get through this without all the dread.

PEG stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. In this procedure a flexible feeding tube is placed through the patient’s abdominal wall and into their stomach.

The patient is then tasked with maintenance of the PEG tube to prevent infection.

At 61 Ed Rossman was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer.

He explains, “While shaving before going out on a Saturday night, I discovered a lump on my neck.

“At the time, my sister was also being treated for a brain tumor, and as her main caregiver I was afraid I had swollen glands or some other contagious disease, so I made an immediate appointment with a doctor that Monday morning.

“I was diagnosed with cancer at the base of the tongue, which was cured after chemotherapy and 40 rounds of radiation therapy in the throat region.

“I had a PEG tube installed into my stomach, because swallowing became extremely painful.

“I never looked forward to changing the dressing around the PEG tube, even though I knew it was important to stop infection.

“It was awkward, messy, not painful, but sufficiently weird when I accidently would lose hold of the tube, and it would tug in my insides — thanks to gravity pulling it down.”

How One Cancer Survivor Came up with a Way to Make Changing a Peg Tube’s Dressing … Almost Fun

Ed Rossman shows where his PEG tube was inserted.

Ed continues, “So I started playing various long tunes to make it a better experience, my ‘music therapy.’ 

“I settled on ‘Time Has Come Today’ by the Chambers Brothers, because it took roughly 14 minutes to take the tape off the gauze, take that off and dispose of it, clean any dried ooze, clean around the insertion point just below the solar plexus, spread antibiotic cream on and around the wound, replace fresh gauze and re-tape.

“When I started this process while singing and head bopping to ‘Time Has Come Today,’ it actually became fun.

“Something I would do around the same time every day and not blow off.”

Ed Rossman is author of the book, “A Guy’s Guide to Throat Cancer,” available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

He also runs a Facebook page (link in his name above), “told from a guy’s perspective using sports, music and faith quotes, emphasizes qualities like discipline, strength and attitude to get you through cancer or any other serious illness,” says Ed.

“It’s informative and inspirational for patients and their caregivers alike!”

As of 2023, Ed has been cancer-free.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


Top image: Gilo1969, CC BY-SA 3.0/ Wikimedia Commons