When Jessica asked for people to guest post, I knew that I wanted to share my “Life Changing Experience” with you! We’ve all had life changing experiences at some stage in our life whether it be something small or something big, and I’m going to take some time to tell you mine!
When I was 11 years old (March 1997) just a month shy of my 12th birthday, my whole world did a complete 360. I was clumsy, or so I thought. After two different falls, spending a week at home from school with the flu, and not being able to put weight on my leg my mom decided to take me to the hospital to get an x-ray. Little did I know at the time that my mom had collapsed when they showed her the x-ray, I had no idea what was about to happen in my life. An x-ray in hand and we were headed to the university hospital about 30 minutes away.
University Hospital - The doctor wouldn’t touch me, she said it was past her comfort zone. She immediately wanted to send me to Vanderbilt University, I immediately knew. I began to cry, sitting there in the waiting room of the cold/sterile doctor’s office. I refused, I wasn't being sent there. My mom demanded that there had to be a doctor in this state that could treat her daughter and after a bit of arguing and demanding, we had an appointment in a couple weeks to see one of the best orthopaedic surgeons in the United States.
Dr. Wolf - A week later I was being wheeled around to test after test after test and being poked and prodded more than any 11 year old child wanted to ever imagine dealing with. After a few straight hours of test my mom and I sat in Dr. Wolf’s Examining room as he spoke the word I never wanted to hear: CANCER. He sat there and told us it was either one of two kinds, Ewings Sarcoma or Osteogenicsarcoma. Thankfully we didn’t know at the time that Ewings was very hard to treat. The next day I layed in a hospital bed groggily awaking from a biopsy where I vividly remember asking my mom if it was cancer, she simply said yes. She came over to my bedside and sternly looked at me and said for the next year and a half Ashley the word “Can’t” will NOT be in our vocabulary!
To fast forward a little bit:
I went through a year and a half of chemotherapy, it was horrid. I had long thick brown hair that was poker straight, it fell out in ONE day. My first chemo was horrendous, I remember my mom standing beside my bedside for 4 hours straight while I puked constantly. The sickness never really did let up. Yes, I had my good days & my bad but for the most part I felt horrible. There were a lot of times that I would be released from the hospital on a Monday afternoon, just to go back for another treatment Wednesday morning. People thought we were crazy for going home for one day, but that one day made all the difference in the world.
In June of 1997 I had the important surgery of removing my tumor, and placing a prosthetic device inside my leg. This was huge as it meant that I could begin to put weight on my leg again, and hopefully start learning to walk. Until this moment I had lived my life in either a wheel chair or on crutches.
Fast forward to February 1998 - my body rejected the prosthetic device. It was removed and a “rod” was put in place to simply keep the muscle (what was left) and tissue from growing together. I had MASSIVE infection, once they found when they went in there. I had 5 surgeries in 7 days, none less than 7 hours long during that week. My nutrition levels were so low that they had to put a feeding tube in me, which I kept for about a month.
We waited, made numerous trips to my surgeon, all the way until February 2000 for my bone to grow. Dr. Wolf would get extremely excited every time we saw new bone growth on the x-ray, that meant we were getting closer to finally getting on the road to recovery. In February 2000 a bump popped up on my leg, which once again ended up being massive infection. I remember finding it in the bathroom as I was about to get in the shower, and I started crying. I couldn’t do this any longer. I just wanted to be normal, but then again what was that? A week later we made a trip to his office, and the decision was made: Amputation. A horrible word, I’m sure you’re thinking. The word we had so desperately tried to avoid. Although, we couldn’t say that we hadn’t tried every possible avenue there was.
On February 4, 2000 I had my right leg amputated above the knee. My world, once again had done a 360. I was a freshman in high school. I remember waking up from that surgery, and I looked down to where my leg was supposed to be, the sheet laid flat. Weird. I knew though, that this was it. I could get on with my life, and that was a big relief.
I was fitted with a prosthetic leg on May 25, 2000, and took my first steps. My momma, she cried. I cried. I’m crying now, as I write this. They are happy tears. Here it is now, 11 years since those first steps and I feel that I’ve come a million miles.
I never thought i would see the day that I could walk without crutches, but I have!
I never thought that I would learn how to run, but I have!
I never thought I would find someone that would accept me and love me for who I am, but I did! And he’s amazing!
Boy do I have chills. Wow. I'm somewhat speechless... and in tears!
I could not imagine Ashley went through along with everyone else in the world who has or had battled this horrific diesase.
Ashley, you are amazing, thank you so much for sharing your extremely touching story. I am so proud of you. God is so good and works wonders for us! You are a true blessing!