Cancer patient Butterfield fights war on disease by the battle |

Cancer patient Butterfield fights war on disease by the battle

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc Cancer survivor Mike Butterfield pours soda for a customer at JJ's Tavern Wednesday in Copper Mountain. Butterfield works during the morning and goes home to recouperate in the afternoon.

COPPER MOUNTAIN – After losing weight, losing his teeth, having a heart attack that was possibly related to medication and getting sicker with radiation, Mike Butterfield gave up on it.But he didn’t give up on life.”In the last month, for once, I felt like I was losing the battle – the battle, not the war,” Butterfield said. “I plan on returning to work full time next season.”Doctors diagnosed Butterfield with a cancerous tumor in his eye in 1996 and gave him five years to live. “2001 was exactly what they listed me for (to die),” Butterfield said. “I didn’t go for it, and I started to look for alternatives.”After 18 months of chemotherapy and an experimental operation on his eyeball, he remained in remission for five years. But in June of 2004, doctors found a tumor in his lower intestines. He continued radiation treatments from October of 2004 to May and had a heart attack in March, which he attributes to a medication he and 48,000 other patients are currently in litigation over.

In May, he gave up radiation – which he was supposed to do for nine more months – in favor of alternative medicine.”I was just getting sicker,” he said. “I thought, ‘There has to be an alternative.'”He started acupuncture for pain and sweat lodges to release negative emotions and other things weighing him down. He has been to the emergency room twice in the past three weeks, but he has hope for a new regimen in which an herbalist, nutritionist and internal medicine doctor work together to help heal him through diet and other natural remedies. Through it all, he has kept a positive attitude and remained grateful for Copper Mountain’s help. He has worked at Copper for 10 years; five have been at J.J.’s as a waiter.”Copper Mountain has absolutely been tremendous. They’ve always kept me busy and done everything you could imagine,” he said.And the appreciation goes both ways. Because his coworkers respect him so much, they want to help with his bills through a benefit. He accrued $21,000 worth of expenses not covered by insurance in August alone. With his new regimen, his bills should be about $150 a week, he said.

“Mike is so upbeat and absolutely positive about life all the time,” said Becky Yessak, facilities maintenance manager. “He goes above and beyond every day and makes sure guests and employees have everything they need. He’s just very unselfish, and he’s always got a joke – good or bad. He’s just a ray of sunshine in the morning.”The benefit for Butterfield starts at 4 p.m. Friday at J.J.’s Tavern at Copper Mountain. Umberto Fonte will play music, and a silent auction, raffle and drink specials will help raise money.Butterfield Benefit– What: Music by Umberto Fonte and silent auction– To help: Copper employee Mike Butterfield pay for medical bills, medication and special diet; $2 Fat Tire and Coors Light benefit Mike, as well as $3 Tuaca and Jager shots

— Silent auction: includes Copper season pass, Copper lodging package, rounds of golf, $100 worth of dental work. A raffle offers restaurant giftcertificates, tanning, hair cuts, rafting trips and bike and ski tunes.– When: 4-7 p.m. Friday– Where: J.J.’s Tavern, Copper MountainKimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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