Husband and Wife Unite in Battling Myeloma

By Linda Haymes

But Jerilee Gott, 78, had no idea that her 80-year-old husband, a retired periodontist, would soon join her as a patient.

“My husband was not feeling well during the move,” she said of their move to Sherwood from New Mexico, where Jerilee Gott was originally treated for myeloma

About a year later, Ken Gott was also diagnosed with myeloma, and now both are patients of Sharmilan Thanendrarajan, M.D. Ken Gott also has AL amyloidosis, which is when an abnormal protein builds up in tissue or an organ.

“The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with multiple myeloma is 0.76%, which means it is extremely unusual that a married couple have this same, rare type of blood cancer,” said Thanendrarajan.

The couple were high school sweethearts in Raton, New Mexico, and wed 58 years ago during his first year of dental school.

In about 2002, Ken Gott retired from his oral medicine and periodontal practice of nearly 30 years in La Jolla, California, and the couple returned to their home state, where they designed and built a home high in the Rocky Mountains in Chama.

Jerilee Gott spent years as a stay-at-home mom to their two daughters and two sons but often worked at her husband’s practice when he needed extra help. At age 45, she returned to college, finished her degree in interior design and owned an interior design business for 10 years.

Jerilee Gott is in complete remission for several years after relapsing and experiencing progression in 2018. Ken Gott, after extensive treatments, is in very good partial remission. His myeloma has been stable since he finished treatment in early 2020.

“I still have the disease, but I am able to live with it,” he said.

Their doctor keeps a close watch on them with checkups every two to three months. Both have had chemotherapy treatments but their age prevents them from having stem cell transplants, Ken Gott said.

“We have been well taken care of at UAMS,” she said. “The staff has been outstanding, and we feel we are in very good hands. Our future is very encouraging with the treatment options available for those who go into remission.”

That is good news for the pair who stay active. In their retirement, Jerilee Gott has taken up oil painting, focusing on the drama of dancers in motion, and recently began sculpting, while Ken Gott enjoys fly fishing, hunting and loves woodworking.

“Since retiring, Ken has done an amazing amount of woodworking,” she said. “He designed and crafted custom doors for our home in New Mexico as well as coffee tables, music stands, prayer benches, dining room tables and chairs for us and all of our children.

“Using his hands has always been a passion.”

The pair also enjoy spending time with their 14 grandchildren, ranging in age from 13 to 27 years old.