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Jim Montenieri (Follicular Lymphoma Fighter)

Jim Montenieri (Follicular Lymphoma Fighter)

Symptoms and diagnosis

My kind of cancer is Follicular lymphoma, and I was diagnosed with stage four last year in March. It's not an aggressive form of cancer and I was accidentally diagnosed. I went to the hospital because of chest pains and thought it might be a heart attack. But it turned out to be a lymph node under my left arm. It had grown so large that it was pressing on the lung, making it difficult to breathe and causing a lot of pain. This is when I got the news that I had cancer. It was pretty much obvious at that point. What I didn't want to hear was stage four. I've lost some family members to cancer, and I knew that stage four was the worst kind.

Treatments underwent

The type of lymphoma I have is not aggressive. Doctors gave me a good prognosis with chemo. They chose Immunotherapy and chemo to start treating me. Follicular lymphoma isn't necessarily aggressive and the goal was to bring it under control. It wasn't curable, but it was manageable. So to find out whether it's fully active or not, I'll have to be scanned every year for the rest of my life.

I started getting a session every week for eight weeks. In my first PET scan, the tumor had shrunk and some lymph nodes had reduced activity, but others didnt respond. So, immunotherapy was combined with chemotherapy. If you are going through immunotherapy, your immune system is compromised.

Last week I started getting pain in the junction of my inner thigh and pelvis. And my wife noticed that the area, one of the lymph nodes of my lower abdomen, had been big for a while. So, I checked with the oncologist right away. I went there yesterday, and there was a PET scan scheduled for later in March. They need to identify what's going on with a PET scan. My wife didn't take it well.

Emotional strength and support

Before I got diagnosed, I felt that something was seriously wrong. I had a lot of nausea, vomiting, and no appetite. So when I lost weight, one of the main goals was to get back to a healthy weight after starting treatment. Not only did they assign me an oncologist, but they also assigned a lymphoma specialist to oversee the oncologist. They sent me to a therapist as well as a psychiatrist that specializes in the needs of cancer patients, as well as treating things like depression and generalized anxiety disorder and everything else.

Another thing that helped was my wife. Without her, I think I'd have lost. And I sure wouldn't be able to keep track of all my appointments. I have so many doctor's appointments, that it can be a full-time job. But what makes life worth continuing with and worth fighting for is your loved ones. 

Source of optimism

Just being kind to others and being patient with others has made me happier. I read a lot. That's one of my escapes. I love escaping into a book. I'm also a movie buff. I love movies and sports. My family is everything to me. I don't want to make things harder for them. So I urge them, and it's working now that they don't treat me like a delicate piece of Crystal. It's my job to be there for the kids, not the other way around. I love spending time with my stepson. Sometimes the frustration just starts to build, and exercising is one outlet that's healthy for you. But talking to somebody is even more beneficial. 

Positive changes

I have adopted some alternative approaches in my life. I've come to discover that acupuncture is remarkably helpful. They complement Western medicine to make a holistic treatment for not only cancer but chronic pain or everything. Acupuncture is wondrous. I need to eat better. I'm trying to get better by eating healthily. I haven't quit the junk food, but I only allow myself junk food only if I have something healthy that day. So I try to make sure that I get at least one vegetable and get a piece of fruit every day. That's another part of what gives me the strength to keep going. I hope that my cancer is completely in remission so that I can go back to work and feel better.

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