Lymphoma: Living with cancer

"Cancer" is a scary word. Almost everyone is affected by it. From family members to acquaintances to oneself, cancer in its many forms can manifest in many ways. It can strike anyone at any age, from those with a family history of cancer to someone seemingly in perfect health with no relatives with any history of the disease. Young and old, male and female, anyone can awake to the reality that cancer has invaded one's body. And that "reality" can take on an almost surreal quality. I turned to the surreal as a mechanism to tell my cancer story, using the metaphor of a trip to a distant and hostile planet to set the tone. See my information on: Planet Chemo.

I was diagnosed with two kinds of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in the summer of 2002. There was no lymphoma in my family and no expectation that it would arrive, but it did. I suppose we never expect cancer. My diagnosis included both diffuse large B cell and follicular lymphoma. Each behaves differently and each has grades to further define its nature. Both can kill. In combination, along with presence in my bone marrow, the cancers required aggressive chemotherapy treatments to curtail its spreading. I underwent chemotherapy in 2002 and 2003, and enjoyed several years of relative health until a relapse of the follicular NHL manifested in 2006. I endured chemotherapy a second time. In 2008 I experienced a third relapse. This time, however, the follicular lymphoma was contained in a tumor accessible by outpatient surgical procedures and was successfully removed that May.

As 2011 began I was once again in treatment for a lymphoma relapse, my third so far. After months of “wait and see” and many weeks of considering options and running various tests, my medical team and I decided on radiation treatments for a mass, or malignant tumor, in my chest wedged between vital organs and major veins and arteries. Modern radiation therapy employed multiple beams targeting the mass while exposing other tissues to less radiation than a single intense beam. Treatments were daily for a month with residual side effects lasting several weeks after, which while not pleasant were mild compared to past chemotherapies I’ve received.

While the world was gearing up to deal with a pandemic in spring of 2020, I was also preparing to deal with lymphoma again. On this, my fifth encounter, the symptoms were becoming problematic and the relapse needed to be addressed. I again found myself on both chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs, scheduled for a year's worth of treatments. One of the drugs caused such debilitating side effects I was taken off of it after about seven months but luckily between the two I achieved remission once more. This is getting repetitive but such is the nature of the cancer I have. One advantage of having cancer treatments during a pandemic is that I wasn't going anywhere anyway. Having my immune system suppressed while walking in a world ravaged by a dangerous virus made for some interesting times. Home became my refuge once again.

And about those past chemo sessions. One of those drugs, doxorubicin, is notorious for damaging the heart. And it did. Mine. Nicknamed The Red Death, doxorubicin has apparently caused distress to my heart in the form of what’s called dilated cardiomyopathy. In short, my heart is not capable of pumping a normal flow of blood to my body. Now that I know about this recently discovered condition, I will have to modify my lifestyle once again, to ensure a future. I will still lift weights and ride my bicycles, both passions of mine I would have a hard time giving up, but will likely need to scale back the intensity of both. As I quipped to my brother recently, whatever it takes to stay alive. And I realize NHL will most likely not leave me alone. The future contains many possibilities, one of which is an eventual stem cell transplant, or possibly new drugs targeting cancer cells will be available. I work on strength and endurance almost every day to be able to continue this fight against the disease.

So lymphoma—cancer—is now integrated into my world and has become a lifestyle. Having lymphoma affects me every day in some way, from daily decision making to shaping future plans. But NHL does not rule my life, it is up to me as to how I live each day.

Growing up in the center of the baby-boom demographic, in many ways I am representative of the 75.8 million Americans of that generation, many of whom have or will be facing major health issues. Over 400,000 Americans are living with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Approximately 60,000 will be diagnosed with NHL this year, and roughly 20,000 will die from it annually. The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has risen by 84 percent from 1975 to 2004, and it is the 5th most common cancer in this country. Today there are deeper understandings of the behavior of lymphoma and new treatments are emerging. Currently, targeted therapies like Rituxan are the leading edge against certain types of NHL. There is hope for lymphoma survivors to live full and happy lives.

Here are some resources for cancer survivors and their caretakers:

1.) The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
1311 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 310
White Plains, NY 10605
(800) 955-4572
They have regional chapters around the country, call them to find the one nearest you.

2.) Cancercare / 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)

3.) American Cancer Society / 1-800-ACS-2345

4.) Curetoday
A cancer awareness, education and resource website.

Planet Chemo

Planet Chemo: Confessions of a Self-contained Man is my most recent completed manuscript. It is a gritty, hard-hitting story of my struggle with cancer and triumph over it, for now. The sustaining thought I came away with as I left chemotherapy and looked forward to becoming strong once again—to be strong to heal and to prepare—was that it is not how much life I have left, it is how I live what life I have. Using the metaphor of a space journey to a hostile world, I take the reader into the harsh yet enlightening world of fighting cancer. Planet Chemo is currently being submitted to agents and hopefully it will find a home with a publisher.


photo credit:

Current News

January 2023
Jeff has recently sold a viola he made in 1992 that had returned to his shop. He finished a 16.5” viola of his own design and will complete a violin based on his 1747 Sanctus Seraphin pattern soon. Both the 16.5” viola and violin will be entered in the 6th annual instrument exhibition and sale at the Tom Metzler violin shop in Los Angeles, California, in late March. The exact date and link the exhibit will follow soon.
August 2021
Jeff is currently working on a 16 1/4" viola based on an Andrea Guarneri (1623-1698) pattern. Jeff is using northwest woods aged over 25 years in this instrument.
April 2021
Jeff has recently completed his cancer treatments and is back in remission once again. Over the winter he completed a 17″ Maggini model viola and is currently finishing a 15 1/2″ Studio Model viola of his own design. Jeff is working with a woodcutter in Slovakia to obtain large, one-piece viola backs with dramatic figure and character for future works. He will also be visiting a regional woodcutter this summer to hand select interesting woods.
July 2020
Jeff's book Steel Beach is now available as a Kindle e-book at Amazon's Kindle Store.
Steel Beach e-book
June 2020
Jeff was recently diagnosed with a lymphoma relapse and is undergoing chemothereapy treatments to get it under control. Details will be forthcoming on his Living with Cancer page. He has completed the Betts model violin and will finish the Seraphin model violin soon. He will be taking temporary leave of his workbench until he's past chemotherapy and able to concentrate and do the quality of work he expects of himself.
March 2020
Jeff recently completed a 16 1/8" viola, which is entered in the Metzler Violin Shop's Fourth Annual Contemporary American Makers Exhibition, in Glendale, California. Photos of this viola can be seen in the instrument picture gallery. Jeff is also finishing up a Studio Model violin patterned after the Betts Stradivari of 1704, and will have a violin on his popular Sanctus Seraphin model ready this summer.
September 2018
The Oregon Folklife Network invited Jeff to join a discussion panel on musical traditions being practiced in the area. It will be held at Troubadour Music in Corvallis on Friday September 7th at 7:30 pm.
August 2018
Jeff was recently commissioned to write a short piece for the nationally distributed Vietnam Veterans of America magazine. It will appear on the Parting Shot page in the upcoming issue.
April 2018
Northwest Musical Instrument Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, April 28th & 29th, 2018 Marylhurst University, Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Feburary 2018
Jeff will be entering his latest viola in the Thomas Metzler Violin Shop's contemporary instrument exhibition and sale taking place in Los Angeles, March 23-26. Violas will be played by a member of the L.A. Philharmonic at 4 p.m. on March 25th
July 2017
The 17" Maggini modeled viola is sold and Jeff recently finished a 15" viola of his own design and it is now available. He also has his Sanctus Seraphin patterned violin from 2006 back in his shop. This violin was exhibited in the Library of Congress that year as part of the American Federation's participation in "The American violin, from Jefferson to jazz" event.
September 2016
Jeff recently sold a violin based on a 1704 Stradivari as well as a 15 7/8" viola of his own design. He has started two new violas, one on the popular 15 7/8" pattern and one on his 16 1/8" pattern. He expects them to be completed by spring.
April 2016
Northwest Musical Instrument Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, April 30th & May 1st, 2016 Marylhurst University,
near Portland, Oregon. Map
March 2016
Jeff just completed a 17" viola based on a Maggini pattern from the late 1500's.
Inquire for price and availability.
April 2015
Instrument Show Northwest Musical Instrument Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, April 25th & 26th, 2015 Marylhurst University, near Portland, Oregon.
January 2015
Jeff was interviewed by the University of Oregon's school of jounalism for their series Northwest Stories: Violin Maker Jeff Manthos Violin Video link
Jeff is completing a 16 1/2" Da Salo model viola which will be available soon. His next instrument is a 15 3/4" viola on his own pattern, which will be ready by late spring.

Contact information

Street: 2635 SW Fairmont Drive
City/State: Corvallis, OR 97333
Phone: 541-754-7645