Ringing the bell

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My name is Ashley; I’m a project manager for CBRE here in Charlotte. Back in February, my best friend, Kacey, talked me into joining Team 9/64 and participating in the October Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. She’s so optimistic and excited about everything that it’s really hard to turn her down, seriously, almost impossible!

I was very excited about joining this cause. Like most people, I have had several people close to me struck by breast cancer. It’s such a terrifying disease because there is so little known about what causes it or why it happens. Realizing that by being involved in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer I could play a small part in such a huge cause really pumped me up!

Little did I know when I accepted this challenge that this cause would become so much more near and dear to my heart than it already was. As I said earlier, I’ve had people very close to me affected by cancer. Slightly over a year ago, my 85-year-old, 95-pound grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer; she noticed a lump one day while getting dressed.

Thank goodness for self-detection, as she had not had a mammogram in over 15 years, considering her age. Her age and petite frame did not improve her situation, and the disease had really taken over before she was even diagnosed. The doctors said Grandmother had about six weeks to live. No one could have imagined her perseverance and ability to fight this devastating diagnosis. I along with the rest of my family looked on with awe as she fiercely battled this disease and put it to shame. She went through an alternative chemo therapy treatment and a radical mastectomy. She came out with flying colors. Not only were we all amazed, but so were her doctors and medical team.

This February, my grandmother was rushed to the hospital with what she thought was a terrible stomach ache. It turned out to be issues with her back; all of her cartilage was deteriorating in her spinal cord, causing extreme pain. We quickly realized along with the doctors that she was going downhill and with several other complications that occurred, she passed away later that week. I tell this sad sorry to shine a brighter light on the fact that breast cancer is not what took her from us; the cancer was not able to beat her!

When my grandmother passed away in February, well after the six weeks she was initially given, my dad said something shortly after she took her last breath that really stuck with me. There was a ritual at her breast cancer treatment center that I had not heard of or known anything about. The reward and rite of passage on the day of your last treatment was the ringing of a bell.

Grandmother’s last treatment would have been the very day that she passed away. She would have gotten to ring that bell that very afternoon. As my dad choked out those words, explaining the ritual, it broke my heart, knowing how bravely she had fought the battle and nearly won! So my involvement in this Avon Walk is not only honoring her and everything that she went through, but it’s my way of ringing that bell, ringing it in her place, as loudly as possible while she smiles down!

I have a very close-knit family, and watching Grandmother fight this battle really impacted all of us in unimaginable ways. Seeing how devastating it is and what a hard fight it takes makes the desire to help find a cure enormous for me. Being involved in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is my way of doing everything I can to help! I look forward to a day that my mother, grandma, aunts and cousins never have to fear this disease, and I want to do everything I can to make sure that day is sooner rather than later.

Register to walk with us, or make a donation today! The more of us who walk, the more of us survive.