Cancer…the C word. All of us know someone who has either had it or been affected by it. It is an evil, scary disease that strikes whomever it pleases…young, old…no one is immune.
I think it is easy to not think about until it strikes someone close to you. Someone you love. Ashlie is that someone to me.
I will never forget my first encounter via email with Ashlie. She was so cheery and positive and I knew we would be friends! She told me that one day she wanted some Denise Feagans Photography for her walls:) After we met, I not only became her photographer, but also her friend. We have been running partners, breakfast buddy coordinators and a ton of other things together. My daughter loves to show Mrs Woodward what she is wearing when she gets off the bus at school each morning…so we have a short, but full history of memories.
What touched me in the beginning was our shared love of capturing memories through a photograph. Our first session was a couple’s session for she and her husband Andrew. We had so much fun…not sure Andrew was as excited as we were, but he played along:)
When she became pregnant with their daughter Carsen, I was able to capture a gender reveal photo for them as well as a few shots of her beautiful pregnant belly~
Of course I captured sweet Carsen after she was born.
So yes, we have a history and I have always loved her support of my business. But mostly I have been appreciative of her sincere friendship.
Fast forward to this past April when she shared with us that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I know that I wasn’t the only one who walked around with a pit in my stomach for days.
The first time I saw her all I could do was hug her and cry. We didn’t say much, it was new, it was scary…no words really. Just an “I love you” and “I am praying for you.”
Back up to a few months before when I read another photographer’s series on a young mom just like Ashlie who had breast cancer. Emily did a wonderful job of telling Lyndsie’s story and I boo hooed through the posts. I immediately wondered if Ashlie would want to do anything like that, to show her daughter one day how she beat cancer, or maybe to help other women who faced the same diagnosis.
I at least wanted to do a family session for them before her surgery, but I did share Emily’s site with her and told her I would do whatever she wanted…I was available.
Well, she did read Emily’s blog and consequently got in touch with Lyndsie and now they communicate with each other almost daily. She says that her new friend has helped her tremendously during this time and I am so very grateful that she has someone who knows exactly how she feels.
Soooooo, Ashlie and Andrew have decided to document this journey, the good and the bad. And I will be there along for the ride. I hope to capture moments that they can show their kids one day, moments that show them how strong their mom is…and how she kicked cancer’s butt!
I asked Ashlie to tell her story up until now and will continue to do so as the journey continues. Both Ashlie and I hope that this touches other women, that it may make them go get a mammogram, or do monthly self breast exams. I am sure that she would appreciate your prayers as she goes in tomorrow for a double mastectomy.
Preparing for Battle~
First I was a daughter. Then a sister, a friend, an aunt, a wife, a mom. Now I’m working on my next title: survivor.
In April of this year, I noticed a lump in my right breast. Considering I was 31, healthy, a new mom, and had experienced many a hormonal change, I didn’t think much of it. I immediately adopted the “If I don’t think about it it’ll go away” attitude. Within a week or two, some other things happened that kept pushing this lump to the forefront of my brain. One night, while sitting on the floor in my living room playing with my daughter, I blurted out to my husband that I found a lump in my breast. So, my always strong, steady, and practical husband, who I was looking to for a reassuring “that’s nothing,” or “that’s always been there,” said “You need to go to the doctor.” So I did.
14 days later, I was given a diagnosis of infiltrating ductile carcinoma, and a long list of new terms to learn and appointments to keep. Mastectomy, lymph nodes, chemo, hormonal therapy, genetic testing, plastic surgeon – statistics and questions and emotions kept coming, just like the rain that poured that day.
Fast forward through 7 weeks, about 15 doctor visits, a few tearful days, and a whole lotta laughter, love, and prayer. Now I am 2 days away from surgery and the first round in the fight of my life. My doctor told me on the day I was diagnosed that I seemed like a badass, so I’m hoping to meet that expectation (I really think a lot of my doctor).
I am certain that God put Andrew and I together because He knew that there was nobody better to love me through this. My daughter is pure sunshine. My lymph nodes are cancer free. I am resting on an incredible support system of family and friends. God is EVERYWHERE and I am closer to Him than I ever have been. I’ve got my toenails painted pink. Let’s do it.
Ashlie, I am so proud of your faith and strength. God has got this…I love you!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11