Fundraiser being planned for Manti mother with aggressive brain cancer
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—The Manti community is rallying behind Amber Olson, a mother of five, who has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain tumor.
Amber, 40, woke up with a headache on June 3. She has a history of migraines, so for several days, doctors just recommended pain medication, according to her husband, Garrett, who works at C.O. Building Systems in Ephraim.
On June 8, she went into Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (UVRMC), where tests showed a type of tumor called a glioblastoma in the left lobe of her brain.
An article in a journal called Medical News Today says glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer with an average survival time of 10-12 months. However, a new drug is showing promise in stopping the growth of glioblastomas.
Surgery was performed Sunday, June 9, during which a portion of the tumor was removed. However, not all of it could be removed because it was located next to vital speech and central-nervous-system centers in the brain.
She is now on a radiology and chemotherapy regimen. She spends weekdays at the Provo Ronald McDonald guest house and comes home to be with her family on weekends. Her mother, Shelly Alder of Manti, stays with her at the hospital.
According to her husband, after six weeks of radiation and high doses of chemotherapy, Amber will continue on chemotherapy for six months to a year, and then probably be on some kind of chemotherapy for the rest of her life.
Prior to her illness, Amber was happily taking care of her family, and enjoyed horseback riding, camping and anything in the mountains.
“She comes home pretty tired and worn out,” Garrett says. “We don’t do much when she’s home; we’re just glad to have her with us.” The children, Elsey, 14; Rhett, 12; Chloe, 10; Ollin, 8; and Racyn, 4, stay close to their mom when she’s home.
“The children are our main concern,” Garrett says. “Little Racyn is kind of clingy. When I go to work, he doesn’t want me to leave. The rest of the kids are dealing with the challenge pretty well, going to soccer and getting ready for school.”
The Olsons are getting a lot of support from family, their LDS ward. The Manti 5th Ward put on a dinner for them in June.
Her parents, Roger and Shelley Alder of Manti, and her parents-in-law, Glen and Nora Olson of Moroni, are very involved in helping out.
Amber also gets support from her brother Justin Alder of Sterling; a sister, Christy Oliver of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Keith Alder of Ephraim.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking,” her brother Justin says. “We don’t know what causes these tumors, but it’s not really genetic. We’re grateful for the support of the community, it’s really amazing to see how many people are helping.”
Wade Anderson, the Manti postmaster, is part of a committee, and a fundraiser has been set for Nov. 15 at Manti High School at 5 p.m. to help with medical expenses.
“So far there has been an overwhelming response from the community,” Anderson says.
A Zions account has been established under the name of Justin Alder for donations.