September is Lymphoma Awareness Month. Amie Pont, who was diagnosed with the condition late last year, speaks candidly to reporter Alexia Johnston to help raise awareness.
A year ago Ranfurly woman Amie Pont had no idea she was living with lymphoma.
She was regularly overcome with extreme fatigue, forcing her to pull over on the roadside to sleep.
Fatigue started in 2017 and by 2019 it was ‘‘unreal’’.
In 2018 she broke out in a lymphoma rash and over time had episodes of hot flushes.
Mrs Pont, a mother of two, was living a busy life, holding down various roles in the Ranfurly community.
Aside from that, she believed the side effects that consumed her were caused by menopause — until a lump appeared on her neck.
At that point she realised it was possible the underlying cause was much more sinister.
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 2, a cancer that starts in the lymph glands or other organs of the lymphatic system.
Each year more than 800 people are diagnosed with lymphoma in New Zealand, making it the sixth most common type of cancer.
Mrs Pont, who was treated for Stage 4 due to the large tumour growing into her right lung, endured four rounds of chemotherapy.
She responded well to treatment and was given the ‘‘all-clear’’ in March.
Her diagnosis was followed by the realisation that two other people in her community were also on a similar journey.
Due to its prevalence in her community, but a lack of awareness, she wanted to share her story to help others.
She wrote about her experience on Facebook and joined various lymphoma support pages where she received advice from around the world.
Ms Pont was grateful to many people and groups who supported her, including Dunedin Hospital’s oncology department, staff at Maniototo Health Services and those who sent cards, messages of support, food, care packages, hampers and who looked after her house and pets.
And, last but not least, she was thankful to her husband Jeff and daughters Madi (17), Kassidy (15) and her wider whanau and friends.
Mrs Pont is still working on her recovery thanks to the Pinc and Steel rehabilitation programme, which provides after-care support following cancer treatment.
It is one of the few programmes she has discovered post-cancer and worries there is far less support at the end of treatment than during.
But, overall, a year since her ‘‘whirlwind’’ journey began, Mrs Pont is grateful.
‘‘It’s been hell but has taught me so much about myself and others and has opened up my thinking in so many ways.’’