By LINDSAY CAREY
One business is going out of its way to support an employee and lifelong Southington resident and her battle with stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
REACT Physical Therapy is holding a Pasta Dinner on Sunday, Jan. 18 at the Waterbury ELKS Lodge from 12 to 5:30 p.m. in honor of Brittany Montague.
Fresh out of college and having just finished her exams, 22-year-old Montague was hired as an exercise physiologist and rehab technician at REACT Physical Therapy in Waterbury.
Clinical director of REACT Physical Therapy Kathy Gannon said Montague became sick almost right after being hired and was advised by her mother to go see a doctor. After running some tests, Montague was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2013.
She went through chemo-therapy and,according to Gannon,she did not miss a day of work.
“When she started losing her hair she made the decision to cut it and when she came back to work on that Monday we all wore hats,” said Gannon.
Montague said her friends and co-workers have been a major support system throughout the process.
“They’ve been nothing, but supportive this whole time and I feel so lucky that they’re always there to support and encourage me,” said Montague.
After receiving the chemotherapy, she went into remission for a short time. However, the disease returned on her 23rd birthday and Montague had to undergo an “autologus stem cell transplant” where healthy stem cells were removed from her bone marrow, frozen and re-injected after chemotherapy.
Montague is currently at the tail end of a 100 day period where she had to stay at home to rebuild her new immune system in a germ free environment.
She said she started walking as soon as she got home and is now doing 5k runs.
“It’s going well and I feel good,” said Montague, who has about another month before she can return to work. “Going outside has really helped, my friends have been going on walks and runs with me. That’s helped me keep my sanity and even just going for a drive really helps.”
Gannon said that Montague has been an inspiration to all of her patients at the physical therapy facility.
“Talk about having a positive mental attitude and not feeling well,” said Gannon. “I mean nobody really goes to physical therapy, because they feel good. So I think Brittany is trying to be a positive role model.”
“When she came in after chemo looking pale and I asked how she was doing she always said she was doing great,” said Gannon. “She never complained.”
Besides going outside, Montague said she has tried to maintain a positive frame of mind throughout this life-changing process.
“I just try and take it day by day and I think it just gives you a better outlook on life and try and take things as it goes,” said Montague.
Gannon said that she along with her 15 employees at REACT Physical Therapy decided to do something for Montague as a part of annual effort to give back to the community.
“I cannot to tell you how the patients who are getting involved with this since they found out,” said Gannon. “I have patients who have been out of work for years and they have managed to come up with $10 or $20 bill, because she is such an inspiration. I had one patient give me a $100 check for the dinner.”
Although Montague will not be able to attend the event, she will be celebrated.
“It’s not just family and friends, its strangers,” said Gannon. “I think it’s her positive attitude that has inspired everyone.”
Montague said she is planning to donate most of the money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which she has run a half marathon for in the past.
As for her condition, Montague has about another month left at home and then she will get another scan in February to see if the lymphoma is gone.
“I don’t think it would come back this quickly, so hopefully I will be in remission,” said Montague.
Tickets for the pasta dinner are $10 at the door and there will also be a DJ and raffle prizes for the event.