'Life-Saving' Hot Dog Eating Contest
- Bill Finn first thought nothing of the stomach pain he felt from overindulging in hot dogs, but weeks later he was diagnosed with stage-4 Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.
- Since there is no screening test available for lymphoma, it is important to understand your risk factors and watch out for symptoms.
- Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma is both aggressive and fast-growing. It can arise in lymph nodes, or sometimes even outside the lymphatic system in the gastrointestinal tract, testes, thyroid, skin, breast, bone, or brain.
Bill Finn was diagnosed with stage-4 Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma about two weeks after he attended a Philadelphia Phillies dollar dog night promotion at Citizen’s Bank Park in Pennslyvania, an event he credits for saving his life.Read More
In an interview with FOX 29, Bill explained, he was going for his record of approximately eight hot dogs. And the following day he woke up with terrible stomach pain that he likened to overindulging in hot dogs.
His wife, Heather, recounted urging Bill to get his symptoms checked as he still wasn’t feeling better two weeks later.
“I’m like are you have to go to the doctor but a typical male he didn’t want to listen to me,” Heather explained.
After several doctor visits, Bill learned he had cancer about one month later and started chemotherapy treatment.
His treatment, which consisted of aggressive radiation and chemotherapy over the course of seven months, began just days prior to the birth of his and Heather’s son, Ryker.
Bill has since returned to work and enjoys playing softball in his free time.
One year after the hot dog eating contest, Bill was invited onto the field at Citizen’s Bank Park during a Phillies game to meet former professional baseball player Charlie Manuel.
Heather now hopes to inspire others to get checked when something doesn’t feel right. “Don’t take your time going to the doctor if something’s wrong, even if you eat too many hot dogs, go to the doctor right away,” she said.
Learning About Lymphoma
Since there is no screening test available for lymphoma, it is important to understand your risk factors and watch out for symptoms.
“Screening is a test we do with the goal of detecting lymphoma in a very early state,” Dr. Elise Chong, medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “For something to be a good screening test, we need to see that the screening helps people live longer, and helps people have better outcomes.”
At this point in their research, doctors have not found evidence that detecting lymphoma early helps patients live longer. “That’s the second part of screening that we need to see,” Dr. Chong explained. “Because we don’t meet those two criteria, we don’t have a good screening test for lymphoma yet, although people are certainly working on this.”
Understanding Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
This form of the disease is both aggressive and fast-growing. It can arise in lymph nodes, or sometimes even outside the lymphatic system in the gastrointestinal tract, testes, thyroid, skin, breast, bone, or brain.
DLBCL attacks the body’s B-lymphocytes–the white blood cells that produce antibodies that help the body fight infections and viruses. They develop from stem cells in the bone marrow, and they are essential to the healthy function of the body’s immune system.
Once DLBCL takes over a cell, it stops producing the antibody protein. The current treatment for this is typically four months of targeted therapy plus standard chemotherapy.
DLBCL is most frequently diagnosed in adults over 50, with men slightly more likely to have the disease than women. People with compromised immune systems are at a much greater risk.
What Are Your Risks?
“The patients who are diagnosed with lymphoma early, typically it’s luck,” Dr. Chong says. They may have a symptom that causes their doctor to check them, or the cancer may show up on a scan or blood test that the person had for another reason.
Until an effective screening test becomes available, you can increase your odds of finding lymphoma early by knowing whether you’re at risk, and staying alert for symptoms.
You might be at higher risk for this cancer if you:
- Have been infected with the HIV or Epstein-Barr virus
- Had an organ transplant
- Have a family history of lymphoma
- Have been treated with radiation or chemotherapy drugs for cancer in the past
- Have an autoimmune disease
Speak with your doctor about your family’s cancer history, if any, and ways you can stay on top of your screenings and limit risk factors for all cancers.
Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Although symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma tend to be indistinct, being aware of what to look for can also help to detect the disease earlier. Many different conditions, including infections, cause these same symptoms, so experiencing them is no reason to panic.
However, it’s still worth it to see a doctor if you are experiencing common non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms, such as:
- Swollen glands in your neck, armpit, or groin
- Night sweats
- Weight loss without trying
- Feeling tired
- Swelling in your belly