When Ashley Smith was diagnosed with cervical cancer, she didn’t want to accept it as fact. At 38 years old, she had a job she thoroughly enjoyed and a family she loved. She knew her diagnosis and treatment meant her life was about to change.
Ashley’s symptoms started a little more than a year ago when she noticed a significant change in her sleeping habits. She would get off work, come home, fall asleep and not wake up for hours. After a trip to the emergency room to rule out signs of a miscarriage, she found herself at her doctor’s office to receive some bad news.
“My doctors and their team had found that my cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes in my pelvis – I was terrified,” Ashley recalls. “It had advanced so much further than what I thought. My mind went to my 3-year-old daughter.”
Ashley put her faith in God and our doctors to figure the best course of treatment.
“Everyone was so comforting, and it’s nice to see people being kind to one another all the time,” Ashley says regarding the clinicians and team members she encountered along her journey at the Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center. “It’s a miracle I’m here. I don’t know how to express my gratitude.”
After undergoing treatment and surgery, Ashley expected to get right back to life. However, she admits that recovery has not been what she thought it would be. She feels she has a lot of healing to do before she can allow her body to go back to work – both mentally and physically.
“I learned a lot through this process. I learned about my boundaries and how to accept changes that you can’t control,” Ashley says. “I know with a lot of prayer I can continue processing and healing – I know I have a lot of healing to do.”
Next month, Ashley will be participating in Over the Edge, a rappel event that benefits The Victory Center, a privately funded nonprofit organization with a location in our Perrysburg Cancer Center. Each dollar raised allows The Victory Center to offer cancer support services free of charge in the greater Toledo community.
Our ministry will proudly sponsor Ashley as she drops down the side of a downtown Toledo building. Members of her oncology care team will also be there to cheer her on.
“I’m really excited for the event,” Ashley says. “I remember driving past the event last year thinking ‘I don’t know what they’re doing but I know I want to do it.’”
To Ashley, the event is symbolic of her becoming a cancer survivor. Together, with her team of supporters, she is ready to show the world what survivorship looks like.
“I don’t feel special, but I do know God is looking out for me all the time,” she shares. “I really want to thank the people who helped me through this. I know I’ve told them, but I don’t know how you thank someone enough for saving your life. It blows my mind how fortunate I am.”
Learn more about the cancer care services we offer at Mercy Health.