Michael Holtz had just celebrated his 43rd birthday and had recently completed the Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Marathon in March of 2012 when he underwent a colonoscopy to determine what was causing some weird digestive issues he was experiencing. During the procedure, his gastroenterologist found a three-inch adenocarcinoma on the wall of Michael’s rectum, stage-3b cancer. Even after more than 10 years of work for a cancer organization, hearing the words “you have cancer” said about him came as quite a shock. After 11 months of treatment, which included oral chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgery, and infused chemotherapy, Michael was declared cancer free. He was left with a permanent colostomy and persistent neuropathy in his hands and feet. Not that any of that has stopped him. Three months after treatment ended, a friend encouraged him to participate in an obstacle trail race in the backwoods of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It was slow going because Michael couldn’t feel the ground beneath his feet but he and his friend finished together. Michael has also completed several 5Ks and the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. He has co-owned a gym and now runs his own boot camp-style exercise class. He has inspired thousands by openly sharing his cancer experience and his life since on social media, traditional media and on his blog. Michael is the author of It’s Not Harder Than Cancer: The Mindsets You Need to Survive and Thrive After Serious Illness, in which he shares the life lessons he learned during his cancer journey, including appreciating our caregivers, expressing gratitude, surrounding yourself with good people, having a positive attitude and actively planning for life after illness.
Michael has more than 20 years of experience in health care, non-profit and government public relations and marketing practitioner. He currently works as a part-time account coordinator for z11 communications, a full-service agency based in Knoxville. He also works as the Director of Community Assessment and Health Promotion for the Knox County Health Department. He is formerly Regional Media Advocacy Director for the South Region of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
Michael lives in Knoxville with his wife, whom he calls the lovely Sarah, and their rescue dog, a Golden Bassett named Marley. Michael and Sarah have a great life filled with love and support from their friends and family. He can be reached through his website, www.michaelholtzonline.com, on Facebook @MichaelAndrewHoltz and on Twitter @michaelholtz.
Topics: Caregiver Support, Health and Social Media, Humor and Medicine, Late Term Side Effects, Legislative Advocacy, Neuropathy, Spirituality, and Survivor Experiences.