Utah A.G. Shurtleff 'full of joy' – he's cancer-free
Health • Utah A.G. can resume schedule; wife says, "You have your swagger back."
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When Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff heard the doctor say he was cancer-free, he let out a yell.

Then he got on the phone with his wife and his mother, and they all cried.

"It was a sense of relief," he said Tuesday. "It felt great."

The 53-year-old has been battling Stage 3 colon cancer since being diagnosed in December. He had a tumor surgically removed and began chemotherapy in January.

Through the process, he had a series of complications and was hospitalized in May for a week when his body reacted badly to the treatment.

Shurtleff said because he had to attempt three types of chemotherapy, the regimen was "not the normal protocol" and it fell short by a few weeks from being a complete treatment.

But he said the doctor decided to run a scan to see if any cancer remained. On Monday, while Shurtleff was in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for a conference with other attorneys general, he got a text saying the results were available.

It was good news.

"My energy is coming back, my taste buds are coming back and my hair is coming back," he said. "My wife said, 'You have your swagger back, too.' "

He said the doctor told him he could resume his full schedule and that he would have to be checked again in six months to ensure the cancer hasn't returned.

Shurtleff said he is not going to worry about it.

"If it comes back, it comes back," he said. "But right now, I'm just full of joy."

When Shurtleff was diagnosed, doctors said there would be a 59 percent chance that he would survive five years. But, with the chemotherapy, the odds increase by another 17 percent.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero