Utah cancer survivor puts patients first in the fight for a cure

LEHI — In the days and weeks after being told she had multiple myeloma, Jenny Ahlstrom was forced to make a decision regarding her treatment.

It’s no different for anyone facing a terminal disease.

“It took me three years to get up to speed on the science behind myeloma and patients who have a high-risk disease don’t often have that luxury,” she said. “They need to make an immediate treatment decision right when their life feels like it has fallen apart.”

The diagnosis itself is often life-shattering, yet patients like Ahlstrom must then know what to do to stop whatever it is that is quickly eating away at their lives.

“There’s no way you can become accustomed to that idea of somebody telling you in the middle of your mothering that you have a terminal cancer that is typical for a 72-year-old man,” she said, adding that the life expectancy for someone with her condition was a little more than two years at the time.

“It was complete shellshock. You don’t know what to do with that,” she said. “And, all of a sudden, you’re supposed to pick a treatment protocol within weeks that is supposed to save your life.”

That struggle to know what to do next led the Utah couple to create HealthTree, a nonprofit patient-based research database, where cancer patients can share their health information in hopes of helping others with the disease and, ultimately, finding a cure.

Getting the news

The family, including six young children, had just completed a difficult, international move to Mexico and were acclimatizing well while Paul Ahlstrom began building a venture capital firm there. In the summer of 2010, during a “break” spent in the states, Jenny Ahlstrom visited a doctor for issues that had been plaguing her for months, maybe even years.

“From my last pregnancy on, I …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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