Just three weeks after their wedding in 2007, newlyweds Dan and Melanie Hedlund were in for some startling news—Dan had osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
"It was pretty shocking," says Dan. "We were still in the honeymoon phase and excited about starting our lives together. We didn’t know what to expect."
A second opinion brought Dan to Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). "I feel comfortable putting my life in the hands of these doctors any day of the week," he says. "They’re not just good at what they do, they’re passionate about what they do."
Because of his age and strong overall health, Dan’s physician, Lor Randall, MD, director of Sarcoma Services at HCI and an associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Utah, chose an aggressive treatment regimen. Dan says it was rough, but he accepted the challenge. "Dr. Randall wasn’t trying to extend my life by a couple of years, he was trying to cure me. Because I was so young, we didn’t have to be conservative."
Dan underwent surgery and chemotherapy and responded well to treatment. He maintained an optimistic outlook throughout.
"I haven’t been that worried cancer would take my life," he said in an interview a few years after his diagnosis. "I’ve tried to get busy living. Even if I only had a 1% chance, somebody has to be that 1%. Why not me?"
The aggressive treatment regimen worked. Dan had his last surgery in 2012 and has been cancer-free ever since. In 2013, Dan and Melanie welcomed a baby boy into their lives. His name is Noah Randall—Randall in honor of Dan’s doctor at HCI. He and his wife also have twin boys born in 2016.
Looking back on his experience, Dan says he recognizes how cancer has affected him in a positive way.
"The lessons I’ve learned, the strength I’ve been given, the support I’ve received, and the faith I’ve developed have all shaped me into who I am today."