John and Erin Amundsen, of Logan, will always remember the magical week they spent at Disneyland and SeaWorld with their three children. It was a dream come true for the young family to leave their troubles behind and build long-lasting memories together.
In June 2011, John was diagnosed with Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma, an aggressive type of brain cancer. Beforehand, John had experienced symptoms — severe headaches and temporary vision loss in his left eye — that landed him in the hospital within 24 hours.
Soon after testing, the doctors found that John had a brain tumor that had grown for about seven years. John’s tumor was removed within two days, and he was sent home after spending three days in the hospital.
John had a second tumor removed in 2013 and then underwent six weeks of radiation and five rounds of chemotherapy. John still has periodic checkups every three months. He is retired from the Armed Forces and now spends most of his time at home.
Since his diagnosis in 2011, John has made it his goal to spend more quality time with his family. “I’m trying to spend as much time with my family as I can,” he said. “I can leave them money, but they won’t remember that. They will remember the memories.”
In February 2015, a sweet blessing came to the Amundsen home, allowing them to build those special memories. A mutual connection led their family to Robyn Nelson, co-founder and vice president of One Wish.
One Wish is a non-profit organization in Logan that grants wishes for people 18 years and older with life-threatening illnesses.
Since founded in 2011, the organization has granted 24 wishes. It is comprised of a board of directors that is 100 percent volunteer. The organization works exclusively with Cache Valley and its surroundings areas, such as Preston and Bear Lake.
Robyn said all applicants must complete a request form on the One Wish website, explaining the family’s circumstances and stating three different wishes they have. A friend, family member or caregiver can also fill out the form.
Robyn said the decision-making process begins after the form is submitted. A board member will then follow up with the family’s doctor to ensure legitimacy. Next, the board will discuss the request and vote.
John’s wish was granted and his family traveled to California for their dream vacation. “It was a huge blessing,” Erin said. “It’s an amazing organization to…bring love, happiness and joy into a scary time.”
Robyn said helping the Amundsen family was a great experience. “When you meet the families, you’re really touched by what they’re going through,” she said. “It’s just so tender to see them on their trip. You just see the light in their faces.”
For John, the vacation also helped take his mind off his health. “That week, I didn’t think about cancer,” he said. “I didn’t think about anything but having fun.”
Learn more about One Wish at www.onewishcachevalley.org.