Raton natives and high school sweethearts

Raton natives and high school sweethearts Ken and Jerilee Gott have been married 58 years. Together, the pair is battling a rare form of cancer known as multiple myeloma.

A husband and wife described as “high-school sweethearts from Raton” were featured by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences after they both battled a rare form of cancer together.

According to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Jerilee and Ken Gott moved to Arkansas from New Mexico in late 2017 to be closer to two daughters and their grandchildren.

Jerilee was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare cancer of the plasma cells in the blood, in 2009 and began visiting UAMS for regular checkups.

A year after the couple’s move, Jerilee’s husband Ken was also diagnosed with myeloma. Both are now patients of Dr. Sharmilan Thanendrarajan at UAMS.

“The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with multiple myeloma is 0.76 percent, 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 Ken’s first year of dental school. According to the feature from UAMS, Jerilee Gott is now in complete remission for several years after relapsing and experiencing progression in 2018 and Ken Gott, after extensive treatments, is in very good partial remission. His myeloma has been stable since he finished treatment in early 2020. 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 near Chama located in the San Luis Valley in Costilla County.

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.

Said the feature, “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,” the feature said.

The pair has 14 grandchildren ranging in age from 13-27 years old.

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