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The City Journals

Brighton community rallies and army of support for Ashtyn

Nov 29, 2016 03:26PM ● By Rubina Halwani

Peers visit Ashtyn Poulsen in the hospital. (Ashtyn’s Army)

By Rubina Halwani | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights

Ashtyn Poulsen has had a long battle with cancer. In 2013, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at age 12. She underwent a bone marrow transplant and remission that same year. Three years later, she relapsed in October 2016. Now, at age 15, Ashtyn attends Brighton High School and the school community has joined her army of support. 

Suzanne Poulsen, Ashtyn’s mother, blogs updates using a Facebook page named Ashtyn’s Army. The page was initially created after Ashtyn’s first diagnosis back in 2013. In more recent posts, Poulsen recounts what the past two months have been like with her daughter’s relapse. 

“When Ashtyn went to the ER on October 9th and found out her cancer had relapsed, tests showed 85 percent of her bone marrow was leukemia cells,” wrote Poulsen. 

Ashtyn has a specific form of AML, a type that affects only two to three percent of all AML cases. She has spent a significant amount of time in the hospital since the onset of her illness. She has endured physically taxing treatments, including the loss of her hair because of therapy. 

In another post, Poulsen wrote, “Ashtyn’s morning lab values that check liver and kidney functions as well as blood production are all improving daily. Yep. Her liver is getting better! It still has a ways to go but the bilirubin is coming down.”

The Brighton Bengals dedicated a football game in mid-October to Ashtyn. Students wore camouflage to represent Ashtyn’s Army. The school also raised funds for her medical expenses by selling items, including a silent auction for a jersey of NBA player Steph Curry.

So far, Ashtyn’s Facebook page has received almost 4,000 likes. She’s received messages of support and visits while in the hospital. 

Angie Purvis from Nevada posted, “I donate plasma two times a week and after reading this last night, I’m donating today for Ashtyn, and those like her. Much love and prayers coming your way!”

Lisa Harbertsen from Park City wrote, “Wow. Every day, every hour is a rollercoaster. I’m so amazed by the way she weathers this big storm, with calm and grace.”

In her latest post, Poulsen mentioned that Ashtyn was coming home, after spending 34 days in the hospital. She asked for people’s prayers for her daughter’s health. The family hopes to celebrate Ashtyn’s 16th birthday outside the hospital at the end of November.