Even in remission, Ashford taking fight to cancer
The Ashfords, from left, Mark, Cari, Parker and Patrick, are supporting the East Tennessee Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk to raise money to battle the disease that took Cari’s father and grandfather and she has currently in remission.
It was during her battle with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia last year that Morristown resident Cari Ashford learned about the Light the Night Walk sponsored by the East Tennessee Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Ashford promised that she would be a participant in this years walk to celebrate one year of remission. Ashford and her husband Mark, and sons, Patrick and Parker will head up Team Ashford Momma Fans.
Ashord’s battle began after she watched her father, Bill Swann go through his initial treatments in 2007 with blood cancer, the same disease that claimed the life of her grandfather, Kyle Swann.
Soon after her father died in 2010, Ashford discovered a swollen lymph node on her neck that would eventually be tested and diagnosed as CLL.
With CLL, commonly known as the “watch and wait” disease, Ashford had to do just that for two years before the disease progressed enough that she could receive treatment.
Ashford began chemotherapy last summer which lasted through the fall.
During her time battling the disease, Ashford said life went on.
“I grieved with my mother over the loss of my father, saw my first son off to college and my baby go into high school,” Ashford said.
Through the process, her faith in God grew at every turn, she said. She trusted in Him to see her through. There to help along the way was her church family at Manley Baptist Church and her co-workers and students at Morristown West High School.
Ashford said she was lucky for the tremendous amount of support that she received, but she knew that there might be others going through the similar battles that may not be so lucky.
“That’s why I wanted to do the walk, in memory of my family and of others. A cure is so close to being found, even since my treatment there is a new drug out promising hope for patients with CLL,” Ashford said.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk funds treatments that are saving the lives of patients in local areas.
In the past year, the Tennessee Chapter gave 923 patients each a $100 grant, serving every county except six in the state. The highest number of patients who received aid were located in Shelby, Davidson, Hamilton and Knox County. Through the Co-Pay Assistance program, the Tennessee Chapter gave patients $1,285,321.37 in assistance helping 607 patients.
The Light the Night Walk will be held at the University of Tennessee’s Circle Park in Knoxville on Thursday, Oct. 24.
UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and Voice of the Vols Bob Kesling will serve as MC’s as they are also survivors. The walk is filled with activities, food and entertainment along the 1.3 mile walk route.
Team Ashford’s goal is to raise $500 but with the help of the community, she hopes to surpass her goal to help even more of those like her who battling with blood disease.
Anyone who would like to participate by walking can register at www.lightthenight.org.
Donations can be made to help Team Ashford at http://pages.lightthenight.org/tn/ETN13/AshfordMommaFans.
- By Chris Phipps, Tribune Staff Writer