Michael Holtz had just completed a marathon and was in the best shape of his life when he was diagnosed with stage-3b rectal cancer at the age of 43 in March 2012.
Nearly three years later, Holtz has written a book about his experience. It’s Not Harder Than Cancer is told around the mindsets he and his wife, Sarah, relied upon to survive the experience and plan for life after his illness.
“Sarah and I made a conscious decision within minutes of my diagnosis to stay positive, and to not allow the negativity of others detract us from that attitude,” Holtz says. “It would have been easy to fall into self-pity. We wanted to present a united, upbeat front to the people we knew, no matter what we faced.”
Holtz’s treatment plan included oral chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and six months of infused chemotherapy. The size of the tumor necessitated removal of his rectum so he has a permanent colostomy, and treatment left him seriously fatigued and caused him to gain the 100 pounds he’d worked so hard to lose. But, he was otherwise unscathed.
During his year of treatment, Holtz shared openly on Facebook and CaringBridge, a web site that privately connects seriously ill patients with family and friends. His posts were filled with positivity, gratitude and an eye toward surviving and thriving after cancer.
It’s Not Harder Than Cancer is informed by Holtz’s CaringBridge posts, as well as by his experiences with Sarah and conversations with a close friend who encouraged him to think big about his life’s goals after treatment.
He has since learned that his cancer was more serious than he was told. “My surgeon told me late last year that I shouldn’t be as well as I am, that I’m lucky to be here,” Holtz said. “I’ve been given a second chance at life and I believe I have a duty to share with others what I learned about life during my cancer journey.”
To learn more about Michael Holtz and his book, visit www.michaelholtzonline.com.