Hometown: Bath, Maine
Profession: Student, Boise State University
Disease: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (Breast Cancer)
Bio: At just 28 years old, Ashley, a young mother with two kids, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Assuming that the lump that she detected on her breast was nothing to be overly concerned about, Ashley scheduled a mammogram at her doctor's office for good measure. Unfortunately, like her grandmother who was diagnosed in her late 30's/early 40's, Ashley soon learned that she, too, had cancer. Luckily, she was fortunate enough to have caught it early on in stage 1, and to receive tons of support from her friends and family.
Eventually, after learning about her condition during a rather uncomfortable phone call with her doctor, Ashley was put in a difficult position. An MRI that was performed close the date of her upcoming surgery revealed that she had some spots on her left side, which meant that both breasts were potentially affected by cancerous cells. As she put it, "I already had surgery scheduled for June 21st, so at that point I was like, 'You know what? I just want to have a mastectomy. Just take them both off, I don't want to have to worry about this. I'm 28 years old (or I was at that point), I have two little kids, I have a husband. I can't deal with this, or with having to come back in 10 years for whatever.'" Because of her decision, Ashley did not have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy. At present, she works with Susan G. Komen and is in stage 2 of 5 of her reconstruction period with the hopes of getting her life back and "look[ing] normal again."
How It Changed Her: "I think it made me realize how strong I am. I mean, I always knew I was strong, but [now I know that] if I can get through this, then I can 100% get through anything. I also learned that humor, for me, was the best medicine. I mean, it was ok for me to cry and it was ok for me to ask for help. I'm usually not the type of person who asks for help. I'm a get-it-done kind of person—I'm a fixer—and needing other people to help me was very hard to adjust to, but I learned that it's okay to ask for help and that people were more than willing to do so."
Why She Wanted to Tell Her Story to Marie Claire: "The biggest thing for me now is to get out there and tell people, especially girls our age and younger, that cancer can happen to us. Breast cancer is no longer something that just happens to your mom, or to your grandma...If I had waited until I was 40 to go have my mammogram like the doctors tell us, then it's very likely that I could have had stage 4 cancer, I could have already been super sick, or I could have even been dead because I would not have known. [Also], you need to know your body and to know what your breasts feel like, because that's what could potentially save your life."
Words to Live By: "It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."—Aristotle Onassis
Twitter Handle: @ashb2112
Her Advice for Someone Who's Going Through a Similar Situation: "Talk to your doctor and ask questions, even if you feel silly asking...Just ask as many questions as you can, don't be afraid. Your doctor's not going to get mad at you if you call and ask, 'Is this a lump, is something wrong?' That's what they're there for."