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The young man Scotty McCreery once sang with grapples with health issues Pic courtesy of Dustin Chapman

On a chilly night in Nashville back in December, aspiring country artist Dustin Chapman and his dear mom Sandi attended the second-annual Rare Country Awards, where Dustin was nominated alongside Scotty McCreery in the Fan Moment of the Year category. Fans will recall that Scotty met with Dustin to sing together last year on songs like “See You Tonight” and Dustin’s original song, “Break Me Down,” hoping to help Dustin feel a little better as he battled a digestive disease called achalasia.

The performance went viral, and fans were hooked on Dustin and his story.

On the night of the Rare Country Awards, Dustin was feeling great. He was beaming over getting the chance to meet the night’s performers—RaeLynn, LANCO and Kane Brown—and was thrilled to be in the city where music dreams can come true.

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While Dustin continues to make music and continues to look up to Scotty, he was reminded recently that not he, nor any one of us, is invincible. “Achalasia has definitely taken its toll on my body, and tonight I had to go to the hospital because I was having some complications with my GI tract, which I suppose is expected when it’s a struggle to get food down,” Dustin wrote on his Facebook page on Jan. 20.

If you know Dustin, you know that this sort of thing doesn’t get him down. Yet, what does get him down is the fact that so many people don’t know anything about his disease, which is an incurable and affects the esophagus’ ability to carry food to the stomach.

”What I shouldn’t have to expect as a patient is to go to a medical facility and there be no medical personnel there who has heard of my disease,” Dustin said on his Facebook page. “Yes, this disease may be extremely rare, but it’s so disheartening to go try to get help and realize that the people you’re trusting to help you don’t understand what you’re dealing with no matter how hard you try to explain it. Occurrences like this are why I fight so hard to raise awareness for this disease. There’s no telling how many people have been misdiagnosed because not enough individuals in the medical field have familiarized themselves with achalasia. It truly breaks my heart.”

RELATED: Scotty McCreery inspires an aspiring country artist to fight some major health odds

But, of course, Dustin continues to press on, especially when it comes to his budding music career. Dustin’s song, “Set Me Free,” has been nominated for Gospel Song of the Year at the Carolina Country Music Awards, scheduled to take place on Jan. 22. “This song came to me at a time where I was hurt, confused and looking for answers, and I truly believe God gave me this song as a means of healing not only for myself but for others who have questions, insecurities and doubts,” Dustin wrote on Facebook on Jan. 21. “I can’t wait to do what I love tomorrow and make memories and connections.”

Dustin, you’re in our thoughts and we wish you well.

Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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