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With cancer at 23, a new pattern in life

Diagnosis ‘makes you change plans a bit’

Published: Saturday, May 17, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Ethan Waters, 23, looks at the IV that delivers his chemotherapy at CGH Main Clinic in Sterling. Waters, diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer, gets treatment once a week for 1 to 4 hours.
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Ethan Waters receives chemotherapy as he sits with his fiancé, Natilee Bertolozzi. Ethan has a rare form of liver cancer called cholangiocarinoma. "I haven't lost my hair, thank God," Waters said of the aggressive chemotherapy. "I shaved my head beforehand just in case."
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Ethan Waters receives chemotherapy as he sits with his fiancé, Natilee Bertolozzi. Ethan has a rare form of liver cancer called cholangiocarinoma. "I haven't lost my hair, thank God," Waters said of the aggressive chemotherapy. "I shaved my head beforehand just in case."

DIXON – These days, Ethan Waters feels all right on Thursday and Friday. By Sunday, he grows weaker.

That’s been the pattern for 5 weeks, ever since the 23-year-old started undergoing chemotherapy every Thursday.

In February, Ethan started having symptoms that his doctor thought were signs of a gall bladder acting up. A month later, Ethan was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer.

His tumors were considered too large to be removed by surgery, so doctors chose an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy.

Ethan, a 2009 graduate of Rock Falls High School who now lives in Dixon, has suffered his share of health problems over the years.

At 12, Ethan was ill for several months before being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. He largely returned to normal health after changing his diet and getting the correct medications.

A few years ago, he was found to have a liver disease that often is found in people with ulcerative colitis. He was told, among other things, that he shouldn’t drink alcohol.

He said he has never been a drinker anyway.

Still, he said, he is at an age when people go out with friends to have drinks.

“I’d have a few now and then if I could,” Ethan said. “This makes you change your plans a bit.”

“It didn’t change my plans,” said his girlfriend, Natilee Bertolozzi, a 2008 Rock Falls graduate.

Natilee, 23, said she doesn’t like to drink. Both know recovering alcoholics.

“Drinking has never been our thing,” Natilee said.

Ethan gets his chemotherapy at CGH Medical Center.

“There are a lot of effects – fatigue, flu-like symptoms, shivers, nausea,” he said. “I haven’t lost my hair, thank God. I shaved my head beforehand just in case.”

His girlfriend, though, noted that chemo for his type of cancer rarely resulted in hair loss.

Ethan is back working at the Goodwill store in Sterling. He was logging 30 hours a week before he was diagnosed with cancer; now he’s putting in 15.

Ethan said he is on his parents’ insurance.

“It’s been pretty good,” he said.

His sister, Cheyanne Bellows, has set up a page on youcaring.com to raise money to help with Ethan’s everyday expenses for things such as keeping the lights on. He’s making less money because he’s working fewer hours.

As of Monday, the page shows that Ethan had raised $1,650, with a goal of $15,000. About 90 days are left in the campaign.

You can help

A benefit for Ethan Waters will be from noon to 7 p.m. July 27 at Bullseye bar in Sterling.

The event will include a cake walk, a dunk tank, a silent auction, a taco bar, a bags tournament, a DJ, T-shirts and bracelets.

For more information, call Lisa Turner at 815-718-3027, Cheyanne Bellows at 815-858-4544 or Bridgette Willet at 815-631-2075.

People also can donate to Waters through youcaring.com.

 

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