When Mooresville resident and cancer survivor Scott Montgomery found that there wasn’t much funding support for the rare appendix cancer he was diagnosed with, he decided to start his own fundraiser, “Hoops for a Cure.”
Montgomery was diagnosed with metastatic mucinous appendiceal adenocarcinoma in fall of 2013, after several months of misdiagnosed symptoms and increasing pain.
“In July (2013), I was laying a laminate floor (and) I began having a pain in my side around where I thought the appendix would be,” he said. “It felt like what I had heard people claim an appendix attack felt like.”
So he went to a doctor at work who diagnosed him with kidney stones and suggested Montgomery see his primary care doctor if he still had pain after two weeks.
“I followed up with him within a week as the pain had gotten worse,” he said.
Again assuming kidney stones, his primary care doctor sent him for a CT scan, which showed Montgomery had a swollen appendix.
Except that wasn’t exactly the case.
“It turns out, at some point, my appendix had ruptured from the tumor growth and the tumor replaced the appendix,” he said.
A few days later, Montgomery underwent surgery to have the tumor and appendix shards removed. Three weeks later, a conclusive pathology report came back with the results – metastatic mucinous appendiceal adenocarcinoma.
After the diagnosis, he underwent cytoreductive surgery, also nicknamed the “mother of all surgeries.”
“They created an incision from my sternum to just below my waist, leaving the belly button,” said Montgomery, 38. “From there, I was propped open.”
The appendix tumor creates a jelly-like substance called mucin, which replicates and eventually fills the abdominal cavity, creating additional tumors that will eventually grow.
“At this point, they removed the mucin, removed my gall bladder, shaved my diaphragm, omentum and peritoneum, as well as 21/2 feet of colon and intestine,” he said.
The surgery is finished by a treatment called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy or HIPEC.
“It is chemo that is heated and circulated through your abdominal cavity over the course of several hours,” he said. “It is then drained and you are closed up and moved back to a room.”
All in all, Montgomery was in surgery for about 14 hours. He then spent three weeks in the hospital, coming home in late October.
Appendix cancer is so seldom diagnosed, it has been referred to as a one-in-a-million cancer. It is believed that it could be diagnosed up to 1,000 times worldwide this year, although Montgomery points out that some doctors believe more cases could be misdiagnosed as other types of cancer, such as colon or ovarian cancer.
In fact, he found very limited information about it on the Internet when he was diagnosed. And later found there wasn’t much in the way of fundraising, either.
“After my surgery and recovery, I was finding there was not a lot of support for appendix cancer when it came to funding,” he said.
So Montgomery, who lives in the Curtis Pond neighborhood, decided to organize his own fundraising event, “Hoops for a Cure,” an all-day basketball event at Talbert Recreation Center on Sept. 26 that will kick off at 8 a.m. and last until 9 p.m.
“For most of the day, participants will play in three vs. three or four vs. four games, which are broken up based on age group, he said. “They will play in two guaranteed games with the teams in each age group raising the most funds playing in a championship game.”
Friends and family can support their favorite team by making a tax-deductible donation under the team’s name. They can also support the effort by bidding on silent auction items and taking a chance on raffle prizes. The evening will end with a dunk competition and a three-point shootout.
Funds raised will go to the PMP (Pseudomyxoma peritonei) Research Foundation, an all-volunteer organization Montgomery found during his research, to support research grants and educational opportunities.
“If more surgeons were aware of what appendix cancer is, the signs and what you can experience when you find a patient, more lives may be saved with earlier detection,” said Montgomery.
Jennifer Baxter is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jennifer? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
The Hoops for a Cure basketball challenge will be held Sept. 26, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Talbert Recreation Center, 210 Talbert Pointe Drive, Mooresville. To register or for information, visit hoops4acure.pmpcure.org or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hoops4acuremooresville.