WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Erskine Blount had just retired in January after 37 years in hospital sales. The plan was to slow down and relax. Then in March, he noticed he wasn't relaxed, rather exhausted.
"I was real tired," Blount said. "I'd just do something—work in the yard and I'd just walk a few feet and I was wore out."
Blount went to his primary care doctor who ran some test.
"He said I don't like the way your blood's looking and I'm going to send you to a specialist—oncologist," Blount recalled.
That oncologist was Dr. Justin Markow. He delivered the news to Erskine that he had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
"It's difficult to broach that with patients but we do let them know that many patients can live for decades," Markow said.
Still, it was bad news for a man who had just started retirement life.
"Shock. I mean I was disappointed, angry, frustrated," Blount said.
Over 72,000 people will be diagnosed this year with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. About 40,000 men and 32,000 women.
About 20,000 people will die from this cancer. It's not curable but it is treatable.
Markow says treatments have significantly advanced over the past decade.
"There are newer and newer therapies that are coming out all the time. We have pills now that really target how the lymphoma cells are dividing and growing," Markow explained.
"I guess it's discouraging that it's not curable at this point, but Dr. Markow said they have a lot of advances in medical technology right now and maybe in a couple years it might be," Blount said with hope.
For now, Blount's following his doctor's orders and is keeping a positive outlook on his prognosis.
"He's been working with me and I take the chemo. He watches and does the bloodwork and keeps an eye on things and so far, things have been going pretty good," Blount said.