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Young Utah Iraq war vet fighting cancer


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah Iraq war veteran is fighting a tough battle against cancer. Friends and family are hosting fundraisers this weekend to help with medical bills.

Tyler Nielsen is 30 years old and recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. His daughter, Ty Anne, is only 11 months old but already she is helping her father.

Young Utah Iraq war vet fighting cancer

He said, "The thing that keeps me going when I start getting down is my little girl, my daughter and my wife. They keep me pushing to go."

Tyler was diagnosed in August.

"It was a very big surprise because I don't have any of the risk factor," he said. "I don't have the family history. I don't smoke, don't drink, none of that."

It started with acute stomach pain, followed by doctors trying to figure out what was wrong. A colonoscopy revealed a tumor that probably had been growing for years. Surgeons removed it immediately.

Now, aggressive chemotherapy three days a week is his only hope. But it leaves him weak.

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5k & fun run
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"I still struggle with some routine tasks, keeping the house clean, chasing the little girl around," he explained.

Nielsen has lost feeling in his hands and feet. He only occasionally feels a painful tingling sensation. He struggles to grip things. Just four years ago, Nielsen was gripping a gun in Iraq for the Utah National Guard.

"It's just unbelievable. It's one of those things that's hard to know," he said.

Tyler and his wife both lost their jobs, so money is tight. Friends and family organized a fundraiser for this Saturday, Nov. 20 that includes a 5K run and auction.

"It's one day at a time, really," he said. "You've just got to take the one day we have and make the best of it."

The family says the small community of Tremonton has really pulled through for them.

E-mail: ngonzales @ksl.com

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Nicole Gonzales

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