SALT LAKE CITY -- A young Mongolian woman is locked in a fight for her life, and she and her friends need to spread the word faster than leukemia cells multiply. She is already grateful for extraordinary generosity from strangers, but she needs more than $300,000 or the cancer will kill her.
Urangoo Baatarkhuyag arrived in Provo eight years ago to get a good education and to better her life. She recently graduated from Utah Valley University, but less than two months ago she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a very aggressive cancer. Now her friends and family are racing to save her life.
"It's been up and down. It's been really hard," Baatarkhuyag says.
She is small in stature, but, she is putting up a big fight against her disease, which threatens to kill her.
This summer, just months after she earned her bachelor's in technology management at Utah Valley University, she got very sick and did not get better.
"Fever every night, sweating; and I had bruises that wouldn't go away," Baatarkhuyag explains.
Blood tests in September revealed the cancer.
"She texted me and said: ‘My blood test result came back really bad. They said I might have leukemia. I'm really emotional and cannot talk on the phone,'" Baatarkhuyag's friend Otgo Carter remembers.
"I was shaking," Baatarkhuyag says. "I didn't know what to do. I thought I would drive to the hospital, but I couldn't."
She was admitted to LDS hospital, and the cancer was confirmed. Baatarkhuyag has no insurance, but the hospital gave her one round of chemotherapy at no cost.
"I'm really grateful for them and appreciate their help," she says.
That chemo cleared the cancer cells from of the blood and reduced them to 1 percent in her bone marrow. But her doctors say the bad cells will come back, even more aggressively; more chemo only delays the inevitable.
A bone marrow transplant gives her a 60 percent shot at a cure, but costs $350,000.
"I want to get through this, and I want to be a wife," Baatarkhuyag says.
Given no further treatment, her doctors say she will likely die in two to three months.
Her friends are not deterred, and Baatarkhuyag says she will not give up. They have set up a website to share her story and raise money.
"I'm not asking a hundred dollars, I'm just asking $1. That's the maximum," Carter says.
Friends and strangers from around the world pitched in. Baatarkhuyag's friends at Rice Fusion Cuisine in Salt Lake City will host a banquet and Kung Fu Extravaganza put on by the Red Lotus School on Sunday. [CLICK HERE for more information on the Kung Fu Extravaganza]
"If just 350 thousand people check the website and put in, we make it," says friend Mars Tsendsuren.
Baatarkhuyag hopes so. She wants to get a master's degree in civil engineering, start a career and have a family.
"It makes me appreciate everything," she says. "It makes me love everything that I had, that I have--my friends, family, my life."
A hospital in India may be a less expensive option. Baatarkhuyag 's doctors at LDS Hospital will continue to work with her on her options.