This is the story of our daughter, 31 yr old Ashleigh. The last few years have been an exceptionally hard time for her. Honestly she has struggled most of her life, but behind the wounded exterior, underlies a creative, humorous, and carefree soul. Like so many others, Ashleigh is battling the addiction to methamphetamines. While in and out of jail, and basically homeless and living in the streets for the last two years, she always seemed to dodge the bullet. Being bi-polar is manageable for so many people, but unfortunately (and like so many others) she chose to self medicate. Well, dodging the bullet ended inl November 2017 when she found a small lump in her left breast. She was in jail at the time, but released in December and never followed up. Returning to jail on January 12th the lump had reached the size of a golf ball. It was then that she began requesting a visit to see the doctor at the Kalamazoo County Jail. On February 8th, 2018 she finally saw a physician at the jail. At this point the small cyst had become the size of a baseball. The following day she was immediately escorted to Bronson Women's Health for a mammogram and ultrasound. They also did a biopsy that very same day.
On February 12th, 2018, I received that phone call that every mother dreads. It was from the pathologist Dr. Jungward at Bronson Hospital. He informed me that Ashleigh was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer. It is considered triple-negative which indicates it is a very aggressive cancer. It is a large mass measuring 5.1 centimeters and has spread into her lymph nodes as well. It is stage 3 cancer. In addition, the pathologist advised me that this cancer has potentially spread further beyond what was biopsied, it is not contained to the 5.1 cm tumor. An immediate bone scan and nuclear study needed to be done to determine just how far the cancer has spread. Unfortunately, our family has a history of the Brecha 2 cancer gene (breast/ovarian.) My sister, and Ashleigh's maternal aunt has already been diagnosed, treated, and is courageously successful in her own journey. Therefore, Bronson Women’s Center advised that Ashleigh needs immediate genetic testing at the West Michigan Cancer Center to determine if she carries this gene as this would determine her course of treatment (mastectomy or double mastectomy.) Dr. Jongward advised that this situation needs immediate and aggressive treatment.
On February 13, 2018, a circuit court judge graciously released her from jail on a compassion release with time served. She was actually supposed to be there until mid-May. Her Dad and I had decided to invite her to come home so we could support her through the challenges ahead. Although we knew it could be difficult, especially because of past experiences, she's our daughter and we don't want to turn her back on her with such a devastating diagnosis. It was our sincere intent to stand strong, together as family. And even though we're not getting much cooperation, we remain determined to support her in any reasonable way. So this is how the story started but things just haven't worked out as we hoped I will continue to journal and share the journey we have followed this far there are those who love Ashley and those who certainly feel she is reaping what she sold
So this is how the story started, but things just haven't worked out as we hoped. I will continue to journal and share the journey we have followed thus far. There are those who love Ashleigh and those who certainly feel she is reaping what she sewed.... however this story isn't really just about her, it's about a Mother who loves her daughter unconditionally, and is still holding on to the hope that we will win this battle. I continue to appreciate the love and support offered by so many friends and family.