March 10, 2022
Stage IV mantle cell lymphoma survivor: ‘Cancer patients have hope’
BY Richard Bagdonas
It all started in October 2018 during a trip to Mexico. I consumed a fruit that caused me to become ill. Upon my return to the U.S., my doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist, who performed a colonoscopy. Everything looked fine, except for minor inflammation on my intestinal walls, but my doctor decided to do a biopsy.
Results from the biopsy later told the larger story. I was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Choosing MD Anderson for mantle cell lymphoma treatment
After doing some research and reaching out to a community of health care professionals on Twitter, I discovered MD Anderson. My wife and I learned that Michael Wang, M.D., was conducting a clinical trial for patients who have mantle cell lymphoma. Just a few short days later, I was in Houston at MD Anderson as a patient.
Dr. Wang ran some additional tests that revealed that I had stage IV mantle cell lymphoma. I began treatment right away. I enrolled in a clinical trial that treated my disease with rituximab and ibrutinib, two immunotherapy drugs.
Through it all, I was able to work full time and maintain my exercise regimen. And, just 56 days after starting treatment, I received confirmation that I was in metabolic remission. The cancer was gone. The lymphoma that was previously found in my bone marrow and in several lymph nodes was no longer there.
I am grateful for MD Anderson
Today, it’s been about three years since my diagnosis, and I’m still cancer-free. I’m here today with my family because of the wonderful clinicians at MD Anderson. I sometimes forget that there was a period of time when I had stage IV cancer. Since my treatment at MD Anderson, I have taught my sons how to skateboard and have been working on writing a book.
Thanks to the amazing staff and treatments coming out of MD Anderson, cancer patients have hope. I continue to use social media to espouse the benefits of cancer research and share how it saved my life and positively affected my family and friends. By using social media and my network, it is my mission to seek out those recently diagnosed with cancer to help guide them to the right teams at the nation’s No. 1 cancer center.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
I’m here today because of the wonderful clinicians at MD Anderson.