Knoxville cancer survivor shares experiences in book

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – He’s a familiar face in Knoxville to many: those who are into intense physical training, and those who are battling serious illness. That’s because Michael Holtz is a key player in both worlds.

He is sharing what he’s learned from his experiences in his book called “It’s Not Harder Than Cancer.” The book continues to gain traction in online sales, which began earlier this year, and now in paperback.

Related story: Knoxville man is living proof of the good work done by American Cancer Society and Relay for Life

If there’s a 5K or a marathon, chances are you’ll find Holtz right in the thick of things. He runs in all kinds of weather and is now training for a tough “Spartan” race in October.

Holtz is a survivor of stage 3B rectal cancer, diagnosed in 2012 and has a permanent colostomy bag.

Michael Holtz
Michael Holtz

Just after being declared cancer free in 2013, he wanted WATE 6 On Your Side to help him show the world you can work out, even when your life has been altered. It’s just part of the journey that is now in his book.

Holtz shares the mindsets he found to be critical in dealing with not only cancer, but any serious illness.

“Yes, it’s about my cancer journey, but I framed my story around the mindsets that it takes to survive and thrive after,” he said. “Things like staying positive and being grateful, loving your caregiver.”

Holtz’s caregiver, his wife Sarah, has a chapter in the book dedicated to her.

“It’s a thankless job,” Holtz said. “It’s all about the patient, no matter what the illness is. Everyone wants to know how the patient is doing. We don’t often stop to ask how the caregiver is doing.”

Holtz says friendships are so deeply important always, but especially during the tough times.

“Finding people who will push you and support you, help you find life after the illness or the situation.”

There is a book signing on Friday, August 7, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 544 North Broadway in Knoxville. It’s free and open to the public.

A percentage of all book sales will benefit Thompson Cancer Survival Center, where Holtz received much of his treatment.

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