A Fitting Farewell…..

First things first, please accept our sincerest gratitude for the outpouring of love and support we have received from around the globe.  Every note and thought just reminds us how many lives Ashley touched.

Now down to business.  As mentioned yesterday, Ash does not desire what one would normally associate with a funeral or a wake.  Please put aside those preconceived notions.  This thing is going to have a bounce house…..yes, really.

Andy and I have debated a name for this celebration and I think I struck out both times.

  1. Ash-apalooza mitch.jpeg

2. Ash-toberfest: I thought real strong contender, but it is November.  Also, I don’t think I can get these leather pants back on.

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But, I digress none of that matters for what is actually important.

Please join us at the Marcum’s Home for a celebration of this wonderful woman on Saturday at 3:00pm.  Please dress comfortably for the weather and the bounce house.  We will have a large heated tent onsite and bonfire for the evening.  Be sure to bring your favorite Ashley stories.

Instead of flowers Ashley requested that donations be made to support Breast Cancer research and support efforts.  She was a believer in what the below organizations are trying to achieve.

  1. The Breast Cancer Reasearch Foundation: BCRF.org
  2. METAvivor: 30% of cancer will metastasize (spread) only 2% of funding goes to it’s research metavivor.org
  3. Young Survival Coalition:  A useful resource for women under 40 youngsurvival.org

To assist in our efforts to forecast food and drink requirements please RSVP in the facebook comment section for this post.  

Address: 5895 Rush Branch Road Somerset, KY 42501

I recommend using Google Maps to navigate to their home.  Many commercial GPS’ will not guide you to the correct location.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 3.16.17 PM.png   Google Maps Link

Parking will be marked and you will turn right just prior to their house.  Just look for the bounce house.


House sits about 100 meters off the right side of the road.

We look forward to seeing as many of you that can make it down to Somerset.  This celebration is as much about Ashley as it is for thanking you for being a huge part of her story.

Before we depart I have thrown on a two of my favorite moments frozen in time.

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Goodbye for now, and we will see you all Saturday.




The Final Round


Hi everyone, it’s Cam…  I know, oh shit this guy is writing now so it can’t be good.  I would trade anything in the world to bring some good news.  Unfortunately, this is not one of those posts.

Deep breath…. here we go

Our girl Ashley lost her long fight with cancer last night at 6:30pm (what were you doing?) at the Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville.  It definitely hurts a bit more each time it gets said or written down.


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Why doesn’t this have an 11?

Ok, now it’s story time.  Last time we left off Ashley’s cancer in her brain and lymph nodes had the appearance of being managed and hadn’t progressed from where it started and she was given the best surprise party ever.

Since September she had switched types of chemo three times due to the long-term effects the drugs were having on her.  Ultimately she was only able to receive smaller and smaller dosages of the medicine up until last week.  Then on Monday of this week, our girl couldn’t hold back the monster that was trying to take her from us.  She spent the week in the Vandy ICU on a ventilator until the amazing team of Neurologists and Oncologists could fully assess the problem we were up against.  Our selfish bargaining led us to hope it was merely an infection and she would bounce right up and get on a plane for Disney World.  Cancer got the last laugh and once her defenses were down it moved rapidly, but our girl fought back from the brink several times and we couldn’t figure out how or why.

With no science or formal medical training to back up my assessment, I’ll show you what she was holding out for.   Feel free to draw your own conclusions.IMG_3307.jpg

Those two amazing tiny humans.  After Ashley was taken off the ventilator machine she fought hard but never opened her eyes.  After what I can definitively say was the hardest conversation of my life with B+G to explain the gravity of the situation, we were able to bring them to the hospital for a short time to give her a final hug,  kiss, and some drawings for her hospital room.  Shortly following the girls’ departure, Ash opened her eyes and scanned the room where we stood with her.  Her father told her probably the hardest sentence in the history of fatherhood – that her babies came by and told her they loved her and goodbye.  That is where this story ends, she closed her eyes one last time and drifted away.


Yup, pain back to 11….

Per Ashley’s wishes, she does not desire a funeral where we all sit in a stuffy room filled with awkward silence and sorrow.  In typical Ashley form, she wants a party and not just any party – a monster bonfire! If you are reading this, you are invited to join us and celebrate her amazing, too short life, and tell your favorite Ashley stories.  Details will follow in a subsequent post.

For the time being, we will see you at Ashley’s family home in Somerset, KY on Saturday 18 November at 3:00pm to begin the celebration of her life.Prost.jpg

Two weeks… Still no words. ALL emotions


Swelling with pride…. and maybe some STEROIDS lol

If you know me…. You know that my crew could never measure up to anyone else’s scale.  The are fierce, powerful, loving, amazing  people.  Most people don’t get a hand full of these type of people but somehow I have managed to collect gobs…. GOBS of these phenomenal humans.


Like…. more than this many…. WHAT?!

These people showed up from the four corners of the world to surprise this girl in the biggest way possible.  I would have been happy just to lay on the ground and let them all tackle me with hugs and that would have been present enough. Seeing these faces was second to seeing them all on my wedding day (which I would gladly repeat pretty much every weekend…)

IMG_3546Like I said…. Faces would have been enough but they went so far beyond.  When this last diagnosis came. Phone calls were made to Cam and they asked “What can we do?” and at that moment I was creating bucket lists and trying to figure out how to make them work. Taking my tinys to Disney was at the top of the list but I knew just the decision making and planning felt like an impossible task.  So they made it happen for me.  Fully planned and booked and paid for.  DONE.

BUT WAIT… there is more not only did my college guys, my hometown girls, and strangers from my hometown help pull this off together….. They found a pretty amazing fundraiser to go with.

In the most appropriate love affair ever.  I was turned into a Kentucky Bourbon. NEVER. BEEN. PROUDER. (let me know if you need you’re own we have some left and can get you connected)

Cam even wrote a love note on it. And my artist friend created the label.  I CANT.  ALL the Feels.

AND STILL NOT THE BEST PART.  The best part of this day was that I was one day off of feeling absolutely amazing from surgery and it felt like someone was granting me miracles.  To stay out to one in the morning.  Eating French food and drinking gin like I wasn’t on chemo and dancing my butt off in Nashville.

I can hands down say…. the best part.  HOLDING THESE PEOPLE.  Feeling the extra tight hugs. Seeing the relief in their eyes that I wasn’t wilting. These men (their wives who have never once wondered why I’m just there) my Somerset girls who are always ready for any craziness I can throw at them. They motivate a lot from me.  And I will never be grateful enough for the life and love and family you have given me and I’m going to let you motivate me to the ends of the earth to always get to see you one last time.  No goodbyes ever.  Just til the next adventures pop up!



Thank goodness for family

So much has happened since the last bombshell that I really have about six posts to get out…. but since I have the energy and ambition for about…. TWO…. We’ll be making this bad boy a double feature.   You see there was REALLY bad. And there was REALLY amazing. Both had some pretty major effects on me.  Since the bad happened first…. we are gonna start ugly. And medical.  AND ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.


Bawled my eyes out at the hospital as I had to miss one of many firsts…. 

For a few weeks I was in and out of the hospital. The local ER, Vanderbilt, doctors upon doctors.  I was STRUGGLING.  I could not get up to go to the bathroom without having violent headaches, shaking, puking, seizures, fainting (at target ūüôĄ) and going blind. So everytime I moved, the pressure in my brain shot up to levels that caused me to hold my breath and shoot my blood pressure into terrifying levels and plummet my heart rate.  I was willing my body to stop.  And let me tell you… terrifying concept but even scarier mental challenge.  Was I ready to give up? Apparently my body thought so…. But my mind is waaaaaay more stubborn than that! So when they offered up a solution that included three surgical teams a couple holes in my head….. I was all…. GAME ON!



So… We put a shunt into my brain takes the excessive fluid in my spinal column and runs it into reservoirs into my abdomen.  No one can get over the difference. I just jumped back four months health wise.  As I stand now.  I have energy, I have no head aches, and I get to start my daily pill form chemo so that hopefully my quality of living stays this good,  PS. CHEMO is working.  IF the pill doesn’t keep up with the IV version we’ll be switching back in a few weeks. So guys.  WE ARE KILLIN IT! I am doing sooooo good. I feel amazing  But that was not something I could have truthfully told anyone two weeks ago! And it was seriously the best timing every because……

I had that brain surgery two days before part two of this story which is a story I don’t even know where to begin… If this chapter was of the horror genre.  I next is a love story.

Statistically Speaking…

I know. I left you hanging for the last several weeks and been breaking promises too. Even though I kept telling you a post is coming, I was really just living up to the promise I made last blog.

Plans. Fun. Living.

But I know it’s overdue. So many questions and concerns flood me every day that I know I owe you an hour of my time. ¬†So here goes…..

What’s up, Ashley?

Well…. I have been throwing parties. Getting tattoos. Celebrating milestones. Packing up the entirety of a home and relocating it to Tennessee. ¬†Purchasing a house and making it our own. ¬†Oh, yeah and living with terminal cancer.

Almost forgot this was supposed to be a medical update… (and I’m getting to it). ¬†But you see now? I have cancer but it most certainly doesn’t have me. ¬† That is not to say it doesn’t effect my life. ¬†It definitely controls about every moment of my day and how I do it. ¬†But I still get up in the morning and do it anyway.

So, ready for a shot of the hard stuff? ¬†Literally the day after the big move, I was able to establish my treatment and care at Vanderbilt. ¬†The first meeting? ¬†A horse pill of an appointment to swallow solo. ¬†Stubborn me decided it would be fine to go alone. ¬†I left the office in tears. ¬†Have I mentioned that I didn’t want to know prognosis and dates and such? ¬†That would be too much like a clock ticking over my head. ¬†She gave them to me anyway…

There is a very good reason that I haven’t given you guys the name of my cancer. ¬†It is bad. ¬†Very bad. ¬†But I call bullshit on anyone trying to tell me how long I get to fight. ¬†There are simply too many variables in this science experiment to predict my conclusion. ¬†Damn it, I’m a rare unicorn of being super extra. ¬† The doctor basically confirmed it. ¬†NO ONE gets this type of reoccurrence. ¬†Like… a tiny margin. ¬†Just like only a small percentage of breast cancers are BRCA positive. ¬†So guess what? ¬†I’m really flippin special here. ¬†Like…. they should being paying me for the insight, “special”. ¬†I sincerely doubt that I fall into anyone’s straight and narrow.

Another thing giving me (and you) hope….

I had my first chemo one week ago. ¬†That was definitely three hard days of awful but I only need to do it every three weeks. ¬†Dude, I so got that. ¬†But, thankfully we won’t really have to much longer. ¬†We are awaiting FDA approval for a medication that should be available sometime as soon as June or July. ¬†It would be a daily pill with significantly better quality of life. ¬†(Sidenote : ¬†I hate that phrase. It feels like yours supposed to pick length or quality and that’s just not the situation here, at least we hope).

So… That’s about all I have for you guys at the moment. ¬†Just know that I’m still here…. Being that annoying special snowflake in the complete wrong way and trying to make my own statistics.



Faith. Fear. Facts

I know I hit everyone with quite a curveball. ¬†I can’t promise we have all the information still. ¬†It’s coming, and moving fast. ¬†But I want to give you the facts first and foremost. ¬†In this situation, there are two types of facts. ¬†The ones that give you a perspective of my body… and the ones weighing on my mind.


Stop listening

Let’s start with the science. ¬†A spinal tap and sample of my cerebral fluid found traces of breast cancer within. ¬†What does this mean? ¬†It means that my brain and spinal column are circulating around with a cocktail of tainted cells brushing up on all the important parts of my neurology. ¬†Most of the cells have adhered to the back (occipital) part of my brain. ¬†If I had to choose, this would be the place I’d pick for it to happen. ¬†This part of my brain doesn’t effect personality or memory or mood. ¬†Another light. ¬†There are no MASSES. ¬†My brain is simply “coated” like a powdered donut. (YUM!)

After discovering the cancer was back, we performed a PET scan. ¬†This is a radioactive injection used to highlight all traces of cancer in the body. ¬†Here is where we have more good news. ¬†The cancer is only in my spinal column, as well as a few lymph nodes of my neck. ¬†I can not repeat enough how lucky I feel about this. ¬†This cancer could have gone anywhere… Heart. Lungs. Anywhere. ¬†For now it is contained, and the infection of an easily biopsy—able area helps with treatment.

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Turns out Eli is a “cancer sniffer” I asked him if I was dying the day before I went to the hopital. He knew.

So what are we doing with this mess….. Today I had my fifth round of radiation. ¬†I have five more to go of my full brain. ¬†They are trying to kill off as much as they can without attacking my spine. ¬†So far… no side effects. ¬†My team is so motivated and organized, I was literally in treatment the day they told me the cancer was back. ¬†On Friday, I will have a biopsy on the lymph nodes to determine the type of breast cancer and finalize the rest of our treatment plan. ¬†Next Tuesday, they will put my PORT back in to receive chemotherapy. ¬†The hope is to get one round in before we move to Tennessee on the 19th. ¬†Somehow all the pieces are falling together like a puzzle and I’m so grateful for the ease of this transition. ¬†My doctor’s at Vanderbilt are already scheduled and ready to hit the ground running.

Shew…… so believe it or not…. that was the easy part to tell.

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Still expanding the noodle

Now the harder part. ¬†I don’t want to give anyone false expectations. Myself included.

The facts of my life lay as follows…

Right now, my disease is beyond science. ¬†There is no cure. ¬†There is only treatment. ¬†But that does not mean there is no hope. ¬† I hope that my body holds for 1… 5… 10 years and science finds me. ¬† It’s not impossible. ¬†It does happen. ¬†I can fight and I can hold on and I can try everything. ¬†And, of course, you know I’m a damned stubborn fool and someone will be dragging me kicking and screaming away from this life.

What do we hope for? ¬†We can get to a state of NED (No evidence of Disease). ¬†This doesn’t mean it’s gone. ¬†It means that I’m living as healthy as I could possibly be. ¬† The rest of my life will be a continuation of treatments until one of two things happen. ¬†And honest to God, I’m okay with that.

There is a weird thing that happens to me when these times have fallen. ¬†I become ever so grateful and overwhelmed about how privileged my life has been. ¬†I take stock and realize that I’ve had a grand adventure of a life. ¬†The relationships I’ve cultivated are so much deeper than most people have the chance to experience. ¬†I’ve seen the world through so many eyes. ¬†I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with MY¬†perfect man. ¬†I found out that the thing I wanted the most was something I swore I’d never have… the two tiniest perfect hearts to nurture.


my happy place

So, if I could ask you for now… ¬†Let me make dreams and hopes and plans because it isn’t over. ¬†I don’t feel sick and I’m living life fuller in the last week than I have in the last year. ¬†I want to talk to you and laugh and go out and be a part of everything. ¬†Include me in your plans, and share your pains with me. ¬†It is okay to be sad, just not for the reason you think. ¬†I’m mourning nothing. ¬†Don’t treat me like I’m dying because I’m really too busy making plans for living.




When Fearless Falters….

Have you ever been spinning out, so high on life, that you stop and think…. “Ain’t nothing slowing this train”?

I have to tell you 10 hours ago… That was me.  Happy.  Hospitalized but still happy.  You see, for a few weeks now I’ve been having major migraine type of spells. They got so bad I landed in the ER for the second time on Saturday afternoon.  And, I know you’re thinking “but Ashley you just said you were happy!” And I was…. until 10 hrs ago.

Tuesday morning, I woke up free of a headache for the first time in a long time.  I was excited that my doctors were finally figuring out what was going on inside my nugget. MOST importantly I was so happy that I was going to go home today.  See those tiny faces.   Smush those bitty cheeks.  Feel the giggles.

Today has come and gone and the only thing that has exited the building is morale.  You see… the cause of my pain was cancer.  My cancer is back.

Not only is my cancer back, it is in the lining of the fluid that holds your brain and spinal column. And now things are spinning.   They are spinning out of control.  Spinning out of reach.  Spinning out of hope.

I’ve already had my first radiation treatment.  It happened less than 8 hours after I was diagnosed. I have 9 more to go.  Did I mention my hair will start falling out by tomorrow? My fun, feisty hard won hair.   Then we start talking next steps.

Well my next step will be a move to Tennessee.  So we are shuffling, while arranging doctors and treatment plans, and insurance coverage.  I haven’t even gotten to leave the hospital and already I’m planning a major move.  I wish I could tell you, “What’s next?”

I know that I still have hope. I know I still have happiness. I’ll find it again but for now it’s all just spinning.

A Speed Bump. Not a Crash

Today, I fell in love. The man I’ve been waiting for, really. He gave me all I could ever dream of and more!  He won my heart with three little words. “Drink. Some. COFFEE.” I know. Swoon worthy!

Just kidding! Well not really but… Can you blame me?Coffee-Slut-Name-Tag

My new man crush just so happens to be my new cardiologist (Don’t worry Mister, he could be my grandfather!). A cardio oncologist to be very specific and the big difference is… he has the low down on the know how.  And the game just changed again.

Besides the reemergence of my old caffeinated self, he gave me back the gym.  He said, “Don’t set fitness goals, but you may do whatever your body says is okay”. Well hallelujah. Not only do I get caffeine but endorphins too? Slap me silly, cause I’m darn near dancing over here. And while allllll that is awesome (beyond a doubt), he gave me something so much better.


He looked me in the eye and said “This is a speed bump. Not a crash”.  Apparently people with my type of heart failure, with my causes and factors…. They heal.  And not just an abstract… you’ll live with this and be fine till you’re not.  THEY HEAL. Their heart returns to normal. All I have to do is play the game.  And lucky for me I’m as type A competitive as they come.  You want to play this game?  BRING. IT. ON!

Heart on my Sleeve… And in the Gutter

I have a confession.  Since my last post, I’ve been needing to tell you something but I wanted to make sure I had 100% of the facts before I put these two words out there.



Ambulance Ride. Meh

Sounds terrifying right?! Well… it is and it isn’t as scary as it sounds.

But let’s rewind a bit first shall we?

When you first begin chemo, they rattle off a list of possible side effects and make you sign your life away as you nod along all numb and willing to not believe any of those things will happen to you.  You already got cancer… The universe owes you one right? Well… turns out the universe was sleeping that day. Heart Failure seems so much more threatening than cancer ever did. Because, Heart Failure means I’m at a high risk for sudden cardiac arrest (aka game over).


When your dehydrated and they stick you 7 times

So what exactly do I got this time? (i.e. “Geez Ashley, Can’t you be normal for two seconds”)  Well, I have Ischemic Heart Failure due to a Left Bundle Branch block. Yeah, I know… FANCY! It basically means that chemo has damaged a nerve on the left side of my heart causing a deficient amount of function. Which nerve is that you ask? Oh just the one that tells your heart to beat.  The figures kind of tell the whole story. Pre-chemo my heart was functioning at 87% (waaaaaay above average) and now it’s operating at 20%. IMG_0634

Yeah. I know. I don’t know what to make of those numbers either but more importantly… Where do we go from here? Well, the next step is trying to improve function over the next few months with a course of medications and an extremely strict low sodium (no caffeine, meh) diet. I’m very hopeful that this will work. If not, the next step will be to place a pacemaker/defibrillator combo. It will simultaneously pump my heart and give me a shock should it decide to take a break. And if that doesn’t help…. I go on the transplant list. I guess technically I am already transplant eligible due to my function being so low but that is definitely not a discussion for today.

It seems weird not being able to “fight” this time.  It’s more of a sit pretty and see what happens. Oh, and you know. DON’T MOVE! I may go crazy from sitting still alone. But, I feel like the best thing I can do is just go on.  People keep trying to tell me not to do this or that, and I just feel like (within reason) I have to live my life exactly how I would be anyway. As I said, I hope it won’t be like this forever and I’ve already spent way too much time not living last year.  I’m over that chapter. I’m never going back.

In Fighting Shape

Tomorrow is our next surgery date, and today I’m bidding a sad adieu to my running shoes.

Even though I said a long emotional “see you later” to my fav treadmill on Saturday (I may have shed a few tears), I still had one more box to check before I hung up the sneakers.  For some reason, I decided that the ultimate “I’m back” statement would be running a mud-stricken, hill climbing, obstacle course.  So, this morning the husband drug my tushie out to the Regiment’s Downing Mile.


“Let’s Kick Some Cancer Butt!”

First let me say… the Mister is a beast so he was all “Let me wear my body armor so I maybe get something out of it at your pace” and “Here, I’ll take photos of you while I’m waiting for you to get over the obstacles”.  What a pain in my rear right?!  But, still I made it!  We completed the course (in less than stellar time) then backtracked through it to complete it again.

I told him to tell people I did AWESOME, obviously. But the truth, of course, is…that I had some assists from Mr. Muscles  on the monkey bars (hello, I don’t even have full range of motion in my arms back yet!).  I also took some burpee penalties when the vertical walls got a little too high for this 5’5” gal.  Aaaaand…. I may have walked a bit especially when the mud got epically slick.  But dude… after the year I had, this feels like I’m back to fighting weight and ready to kick some more butt.



So… what’s my head like going into surgery tomorrow?  Well “internal Ashley” is pretty on par doing cartwheels and heel kicks and singing dirty rap songs (in case you wondered what was usually going on up there).  But, I’m also sooooo sad.  The other surgeries didn’t feel this disappointing because I wasn’t in a frame of mind to really feel like I was being tied down to a bed and told not to move.  And… well I love to move and bounce and run and feel all around alive.

With that said, I’m going to ask a favor.  Instead of sending me well wishes tomorrow, show me how you are living it up.  Post it to my Facebook, tag me on instagram, text my phone (that will be in Mr’s capable hands).  Show me you chasing your kids (or grandkids), or all sweaty from dancing it out, or just taking your dog around the block.  I want to wake up to a whole lot of livin’.  Just do something that gets your heart racing for me because I am going to seriously miss the heck out of some fitness and I love you all so much that I want you to feel just as alive as I do heading into this surgery.