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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Local teen enlists army of supporters to battle blood cancer

May 08, 2018 02:54PM ● By Josh Wood

Ashtyn has received support from many places. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Poulsen)

By Joshua Wood | [email protected] 

When Ashtyn Poulsen and her family got the news that her leukemia had returned for a third time, they decided to do some new things. In addition to gathering her collective physical and emotional strength for another fight against the odds, Ashtyn launched an online fundraiser to benefit other children and teens with blood cancer.

Ashtyn has spent the past several weeks in Seattle with her mother receiving treatment, including an experimental drug that had reduced the percentage of cancer cells in her bone marrow. As Ashtyn fights, she wants to raise awareness and funds to help others.

“We are raising the money in honor of my fellow childhood cancer fighters who have beat cancer, lost their battle, and are currently fighting, who are currently battling or in remission from a blood cancer,” Ashtyn stated on her fundraising page. “My mission is to not only raise the most money but also to bring attention to blood cancers like leukemia, which is the most common form of cancer in children and teens.”

The contest associated with the fundraising campaign ended in April, but donations can still be made at

“Ashtyn feels very strongly about this and she would honestly rather people donate to this than receiving gift packages or sending her anything,” Ashtyn’s father, Jason, said. “The donation is what she would rather people do.”

Ashtyn’s family is split between Cottonwood Heights and Seattle as she receives treatment, but they have stood united in supporting her fight against cancer and her efforts to help other kids and teens in her situation. Through it all, she has experienced more highs and lows that most people her age can even imagine. A strong spirit and a growing army of family, friends, medical providers, community members and donors have helped her along the way.

“She has been very open and honest about the fact that this third diagnosis has been extremely challenging emotionally,” Ashtyn’s mother, Suzanne, said. “In her life she has experienced severe physical pain as well as emotional pain. If given the option, she would choose physical over emotional pain any day.”

Ashtyn was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2013. She enjoyed two and half years of good health before the cancer returned in 2016. This time around, there was no real break between the second and third bouts before the cancer again returned earlier this year.

“She just knew that 2018 was going to be her year,” Suzanne said. “A few weeks later she was hit with the relapse.”

But as treatment has progressed and more people have rallied to her side, Ashtyn and her family have felt reason to hope. “As we were talking about having hope it dawned on me, ‘Ashtyn, I think you were right when you said that 2018 is going to be your year, where you can start living life the way you want,’” Suzanne said. “It doesn’t mean it had to start in January. I know you are feeling extreme sadness right now but that doesn’t mean by the end of the year you won’t be feeling extreme joy. Keep holding on. 2018 is not over yet.”