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Published May 16, 2014, 10:23 PM

Former Bison Jason Boutwell carries upbeat attitude while battling rare form of cancer

Fargo - Former North Dakota State football player Jason Boutwell has every reason to feel sad these days, but he isn’t.

By: Tom Mix, INFORUM

Fargo - Former North Dakota State football player Jason Boutwell has every reason to feel sad these days, but he isn’t.

Instead he smiles and thinks positively, because anything else would be like waving a white flag – an option that is not his style.

In February following an appendectomy, Boutwell, 41, was diagnosed with appendiceal carcinoma – a rare form of cancer found in the appendix, which there is no known cause.

“It was totally 100 percent unexpected,” said Boutwell, who was a member of the NDSU football team from 1991-1995. “I’m a healthy guy. I eat well. I don’t smoke. I run marathons. I thought, ‘Wow, how is it possible I have cancer?’ ”

Boutwell and his wife Chasity live in Fargo and have three sons – Caden (13 years old), Tate (11), Ty (8) – and a daughter Ellory (5).

While on a trip to Mexico through his job as an IT sales professional at Marco Inc., Boutwell began experiencing a sharp pain in his stomach he first thought may have been because of eating bad food or a pulled stomach muscle.

“I felt terrible,” Boutwell said. “I had pulled my stomach muscle while on a skiing trip in Montana over Christmas so I thought I may have re-aggravated it. It turned out my appendix had burst. I got back to Fargo and my high temperature persisted.”

His temperature got as high as 103.8 degrees, prompting a doctor visit.

“My practitioner told me I needed to get the ER immediately,” Boutwell said. “By the time I got there I was near septic, which means your blood turns poisonous from all the infection. I really dodged a bullet there.”

Boutwell’s appendix was removed and he was required to stay in the hospital eight days.

A biopsy was done on the appendix, and when Boutwell returned to have the staples from the surgery removed, his surgeon, who performed his appendectomy, delivered the bad news.

After the initial shock, Boutwell was left with the difficult task of informing his wife.

“It was tear city for a couple weeks,” Boutwell said. “I was diagnosed, but we still didn’t know how severe it was.”

The cancer in the appendix had grown into Boutwell’s large intestines, prompting an additional surgical procedure.

“They got most of it,” Boutwell said. “Unfortunately it snuck into my lymphatic system, which means I have to go through the chemotherapy.”

Boutwell had his first round of chemotherapy on May 6.

An estimated 600 to 1,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with appendiceal carcinoma each year, and it is not hereditary. There are no known ways to prevent it from occurring.

What Boutwell knows is the best way to combat his cancer is to keep things in perspective.

“I have chosen not to think about the odds, but to trust in God,” Boutwell said. “My faith has been a big part in all of this, and I’m trying to keep a positive mindset.”

Support has flowed in for Boutwell.

Family and friends have organized a benefit for Boutwell that is set to begin 6 p.m. today at The Venue at The Hub. The event will include both a silent and live auction, a band performance by Green Light Night, T-shirt sales and a raffle. Santa Lucia is providing a food cart for the event.

“It’s amazing how many people that have been willing to help out,” benefit committee member and Boutwell family friend Bobbiann Froemke said. “Jason is a guy that just brings people together. He has the most positive spirit.”

Hundreds of items have been donated to the silent and live auctions. Highlights include: Autographed footballs signed by former NDSU football players Billy Turner and Brock Jensen, a football helmet signed by the 2013 NDSU championship football team, an Adrian Peterson autographed jersey and tickets to a Minnesota Twins, Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars game.

As of Friday afternoon, Boutwell’s CaringBridge site had received 32,295 visits.

“It has been overwhelming to say the least,” Boutwell said of the support. “When I set up the Caring Bridge site at 11 a.m. the first day after I got the news it got over 13,000 views in the matter of several hours, which had me flabbergasted.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562