by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News Bio | Email KING5.com Posted on February 22, 2013 at 11:52 PM Updated Wednesday, Feb 27 at 6:52 AM
“I used to say that I don't care if I die from tanning as long as I die tan,” said Ashley. “I used to say that. I don't think that way anymore."
When we first met Ashley back in 2011, she was already on her third clinical trial, battling melanoma, the most deadly kind of skin cancer. She was traveling to and from Portland every week, desperately hoping that this time she'd finally beat it for good.
Last May 16, a major milestone: Ashley celebrated the big 40 with her parents Bob and Karen and a crowd of friends.
“I think there were about a hundred people there,” said Ashley’s mother Karen. “They just had a grand time as we did celebrating her 40th year, thinking that she may not make 41st.”
Nine months later, the tumors are too numerous to count.
“Head to about right here - that's where most all of my pain is. All the tumors are in pretty much that area,” said Ashley.
It’s the end of a journey.
“So as far as treatment right now, done,” said Ashley.
Ashley has called a truce with cancer, but not with tanning beds. She wants to warn everyone who will listen.
“I paid. I paid money to be in the position I am now,” she said. “It wasn't just like I wanted to be tan. I was literally paying someone to get this terrible disease that's killing me. That is killing me. Terminal.”
Even the standard “one day at a time” no longer applies in Ashley’s household.
“Half a day at a time. When we met with the doctor before we brought her home, which was three weeks ago, he says she has weeks to live,” said Ashley’s mother.
Ashley's now hooked up to pain medication and confined to bed. Tumors have paralyzed the right side of her face. But she's hasn't given up on style.
“Wonderful people that come do my nails and toes,” said Ashley.
In typical Ashley fashion, she insists it's not over until it's over. Besides, she still has her will to finish. She says it’s hard, but not for the reason you might think.
“I want to be fair to everybody,” she said.
Also typical Ashley. And don't get her wrong. She's grateful too. If not for cancer, she might not have mended her relationship with her parents.
“Through that blossomed a beautiful relationship that I wouldn't trade for anything. Anything,” said Ashley. “So yes it took cancer to get us to where we are, but I wouldn't change that.”
“So a sad time but a special time. It's kind of a bittersweet time for us and our family,” said Ashley’s dad, Bob.
As for Ashley, she only has one last wish.
“If there's one person's life that I can affect, then that's a beautiful gift that I could give to somebody ‘cause I don't want them to end up like me at all,” said Ashley. “It's just not worth it. I can't express that enough. It's just not worth it.”
Ashley was first diagnosed with melanoma more than seven years ago at age 33. She started tanning as a teen.