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Cancer Patient Who Received a Visit from President Nelson Passes Away

by | Jun. 05, 2019

Mormon Life

On Monday, May 27th, President Nelson surprised 18-year-old Ashytn Poulsen and her family with a visit to Ashytn's hospital room. Since her diagnoses of acute undifferentiated leukemia in 2013, Ashtyn had endured three bone marrow transplants, defying medical odds all along the way. At the time of President Nelson's visit, she was battling pneumonia and kidney failure at Primary Children's Hospital. One week after her tender meeting with the prophet, Ashtyn peacefully passed away at home.

Her family shared touching updates of Ashytn's last week of life on their Facebook page, Ashytn's Army. The Friday before her passing Ashytn's mom, Suzanne, posted:

"Until Ashtyn is ready to go home to heaven, we will keep a glimmer of hope that our dreams for her to stay on earth will come true. . . .

 "A few days ago she mentioned, 'Emotionally I have so many emotions. I am happy but I am sad which is so weird because I didn’t think you could feel that way.' Everyday she is happy and everyday she is sad. She worries about people, because that’s totally her personality. I told her, 'In heaven you are the same person so you will continue worrying about people. Who are you worried about? Live with no regrets and tell them how you feel. Morgan is here. Do you want to start with her?' I proceeded to record 15 minutes of Ashtyn talking to Morgan. She gave her advice, encouragement, and love. Afterwards, they both fell asleep."

A genuine concern for others, even amidst intense personal suffering, is a clear characteristic in Ashytn. Her mom posted about Ashytn's wishes for her family once she had died:

"There must be a lot of prayers being said for us because we are doing better than we should. I’m losing my mini-me soon and I feel peace. I do cry sometimes. Mostly it’s when I think of the future, once the dust settles, wondering how I will handle living without her. Ashtyn has been very clear with me, Jason, and my kids: 'I will always be here for you. If you need me, just yell my name and I’ll come. I want you to be happy. I want you to do the things you like to do, your hobbies and passions because I’ll be there. When you go to Disneyland, have fun, play Heads Up! and Psych! in line, go on rides, and I’ll be there. The good thing is, you won’t have to pay for me. Haha. I will be happy if you are happy.' We will Ash."

President Nelson's visit to the family had come at a time when happiness was in short supply. Suzanne had expressed in a Facebook post that she was spiritually confused and had told her husband that she felt she wouldn't be able to trust God again if Ashtyn were to die. Immediately after that conversation, President Nelson walked into the room and, after hugging Suzanne, said, "I have been aware." Suzanne took that as a message from God that He too was aware of their family. Suzanne expressed her faith in a heavenly home for Ashtyn on Facebook:

"Last and final family picture in the hospital. This girl gets to go home to then go to her real home. Well done my good and faithful daughter. Well done."

On June 3rd, when it became clear that Ashytn's health would not improve, she was taken home in an ambulance to fulfill her wish of being at home when she passed away. Of that final day, Suzanne posted on Facebook:

"This is how I will always remember my last day with our Ashtyn: June 3rd I woke up in the morning seeing her in the hospital bed, Morgan sleeping on the chair beside her, and Ethan sharing the couch with me. Ashtyn was in a deep sleep where I wondered if she’d ever wake up again.

"The sky was blue and sun was shining. I drove to the mortuary near my house and picked out two grave plots by a tree and a little running stream. . . .

"When I arrived, Ashtyn was awake so I asked her again if she should go home, wanting to make sure I was doing her wishes, and the answer was 'yes.' The healthcare team had been working tirelessly arranging everything so that we could go home ASAP. At 4:30 p.m. Ashtyn left her hospital room on a gurney that was walked down the cancer hall with staff lining the sides with heart shaped hands in honor of a girl who they had watched for years fight valiantly. An ambulance drove us home where we were greeted by ribbons on trees lining our street and balloons in front of our house. Home-health nurse Dylan and hospice nurse Natalie were there to greet us. They had her oxygen support, hospital bed, and pain medications ready. Ashtyn was firm that she did not want to die in the hospital . . . and she didn’t.

"As soon as she was home, she started to die. Jason, Chandler, Morgan, Ethan, and I sat by her bed as she peacefully took her last breaths. She officially died at 7:17 p.m. The rest of the night there was some crying, some smiling, and a whole lot of love felt. Tonight I’m falling asleep in my own bed with Ethan and Morgan in my room, Chandler in his room, and Ashtyn nearby."

Lead images from Facebook
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