By Andrew Cotner via Facebook: 1/19/19
Time for another Cancer recovery (and life) update for you. I apologize for the delay as I’ve had numerous inquiries and requests for updates. I have been waiting so I could share some good news and that has taken awhile to materialize, unfortunately. However, I am now in a position to provide a positive update along with a little glimpse into what was possibly the worst month or so, physically, of my life.
I am also updating you now because I am exactly 18 months into the battle with throat cancer. I was diagnosed in July of 2017. It’s amazing how fast the time has gone and how long this battle has continued. I was basically 6 months of evaluation and treatment and a few months of recovery… followed up by about 4 months of being able to live a somewhat normal life in remission. Of course, the recurrence happened this fall and I’ve been dealing with this since October. When I first got diagnosed I weighed in at 197 lbs… when I was recently taken to the Emergency room on December 23rd I was down to 145 lbs.
The good… I am getting better. I’m healing. When I couldn’t eat or drink very well my body can’t heal itself. But once I was able to start getting some water and nutrition into my system it allowed my body to heal faster. You can absolutely feel the body heal itself and use food as its medicine. Our bodies are truly remarkable in their ability to heal… if it has the water and nutrients necessary. Right now I am able to eat enough foods and my ability to drink water has changed everything and has fueled my upswing in health. I am definitely recovered from rock bottom and things are now looking up. Which brings me to to…
The bad… When I got back home from my surgery in Wisconsin I had a particularly difficult functioning. I was in such pain and was unable to eat or drink anything. Any water or food was immediately rejected by my body. I was nauseas for weeks straight and was losing weight at an alarming rate. It was painful and difficult to even drink a few sips of water. I felt like I was completely trapped in a no win situation. I would fight through the pain and difficulty of swallowing to get a few bites of food down only to spend the next few hours with dry heaves. The last week of December was particularly difficult as all of those problems eventually caught up to me and I was rushed to the hospital by my dear friend Tori. The combination of large amounts of pain meds, lack of nutrition and a dangerous level of dehydration finally took it’s toll. I was absolutely miserable.
The ugly… I won’t say there’s any ugly. I am very blessed and as bad as things are, they couldn’t be better. Of all the cancer, treatments and recoveries that people go through… I still feel like I’m one of the lucky ones and I will always believe that. The light at the end of the tunnel is still bright for me. We will get through this and then we will move on to my kidney failure and getting on the transplant list. The tunnel got a little longer and the light at the end of it is a little farther away… but its there!
Basically, the end of November and all of December was a complete nightmare for me and, like I mentioned, maybe the hardest month of my entire battle with Cancer. I would say, ironically, that the only month that might have been as bad was last December, when I was admitted to the hospital and spent about 10 days with Epstein-Barr Virus as well as Anemia. Not sure what’s up with December… but I’ve been thrilled to see the calendar turn to January the last few years. I had a great Thanksgiving (w/John Cotner, Mackenzie, Cael and Phil Klein) right before my surgery. However, for the second year in a row I really couldn’t eat any Christmas dinner. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas alone this year but I made the most of it and just used that time to relive some of my fondest holiday memories as well as counting my blessings and looking optimistically towards the future and the many wonderful holiday seasons I have to look forward to as a result of the amazing care I’ve received by my amazing medical team as well as my incredible support system, which includes you if you’re reading this.
One last thing… you may have seen some posts promoting a fundraiser for me. I want to let you all know that I am in pretty good financial shape… considering that I haven’t been able to work regularly for the last 18 months. Health problems are the #1 reason people have financial difficulties and bankruptcies. However, the support of all of you has kept me above water and able to maintain my huble but comfortable lifestyle. I am not having to sell my house or go into debt (I have rented my house). If it wasn’t for the few very successfully campaigns my friends have had I would be in VERY bad shape financially. So, for the rest of my life I will look back at this time and realize the large group of supporters who chipped in are responsible for any financial security I will ever have. If I was without your support I would be digging myself out of a hole for years. However, I am optimistic about the future b/c when I get through all of this I won’t be in a depressing financial hole. I can never thank you all enough for that! Currently we have a fun Super Bowl fund raiser. We have the traditional Super Bowl Square boards. One board is $100 and pays out $5,000 ($1250 per quarter) and the other is a $20 board that pays out $1,000 ($250 each quarter)... I’ll post details in the comments section below for those who want to participate in the Super Bowl fun.
Thank you all for your love & support! I love hearing from you all and my only source of major stress is that I haven’t gotten back to everyone who has contacted me. I have been so blessed and overwhelmed with support. I am healthy enough to be a good host if anyone wants to visit. I do have a spare bedroom and Bathroom for any out of town guests who would like to visit me in Champaign. Huge thanks to the University Group for setting me up with a fantastic loft apartment in Midtown next to Downtown Champaign and Christie Clinic where I get treatment.