Patient Name: Gene Ehlert
Gene and Jayne Ehlert
Gene Ehlert and his wife, Jayne, live in Medford, Wis. Three-and-a-half years ago, Gene was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer. Last year, Gene was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). He explains his cancer as, “Essentially, my bone marrow stopped producing blood cells, and it’s pretty rare. Only 10 percent of people with MDS get the Hypocellular kind.”
Both of Gene’s cancers are believed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange, which was used as a defoliate during the Vietnam War. Gene served our country in the Vietnam War, so it very well could be the cause of his cancer.
He has a positive attitude about it, though, and said, “I get to be unique. I survived the war, and I have a good life. Many of my buddies never made it home from Vietnam.”
There is no treatment that will cure Gene’s cancers. His white blood cell counts are too low for chemotherapy, so he gets a hormone regeneration treatment monthly at Aspirus. He feels sick for about a week, but says that it’s not as bad as the bone pain he experiences from metastatic disease.
Still, Gene has a great outlook on life. He is grateful for the support he and his wife receive through the Reflections of a Journey support group at the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center, which is made possible through WIFC’s Disco Cures Cancer event.
When Gene was first diagnosed with cancer, he said it was a whole new world. He and his wife felt like they were all alone and didn’t know what to do because it was absolutely overwhelming.
At the Reflections of a Journey support group, Gene and Jayne finally realized they weren’t alone. Gene stated, “There’s some peace to know other people know what you’re going through. It’s nice that you're all at a similar level. You can cry when you want, hug when you want, or support with words. It gives us a place where we can pick up new information that we can’t learn anywhere else and be with people who understand.”
“Cancer grinds you down after a while. The support group has been really good, because I’m not ready to not be me.”
Created: Oct 21, 2013