Holly and Nelson Ashworth were living the good life in Cache Valley with their three young children. Both Intermountain employees, Nelson enjoyed his job as a medical technologist at Logan Regional Hospital’s Microbiology Lab, while Holly loved serving as a nurse with Intermountain Homecare & Hospice.
Their lives changed dramatically in 2014. Dr. Nathan Hanson at the Budge Clinic in Logan biopsied a mole on Nelson’s back and determined it was cancerous. Dr. Hanson removed the mole, but Nelson’s condition was already life-threatening.
Subsequent surgeries removed lymph nodes under each arm and tissue from his back. While doctors reported the cancer was gone, they warned his type of cancer -- melanoma -- often returns. In Nelson’s case, says Holly, “it came back with a vengeance.”
The next year saw Nelson and Holly making frequent, grueling 160-mile round trips between Logan and Salt Lake City for treatments. Holly was frequently on the phone or at appointments with Nelson, struggling to coordinate care among numerous specialists.
After bio-chemotherapy in July of 2015, Nelson seemed to improve. But then the disease progressed. On Feb. 5, 2016, at age 37, Nelson passed away. Clearly, travel, extensive treatments, and unexpected emergency visits had taken a huge toll on the couple and their children.
Today, committed to helping to making life better for other families of cancer patients, Holly has become involved with the Intermountain Foundation at Logan Regional Hospital. The Foundation is galvanizing support for a new cancer center that will give Cache Valley patients the option of receiving the same level of care they could receive at a large, academic medical center.
“My dream for this valley is to have a supportive care clinic where cancer patients can go,” Holly says. “Being away from home was very difficult for Nelson, as home is where you feel the most comfortable. I would like to see that for more patients.”