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Ashley Abernethy's Purple Star Memorial Fund
Ashley’s Dream of a Miracle Continues
By Mary Pechar
Last year at this time Ashley was a carefree young girl working her way through the daily challenges of learning who she wanted to be and how she wanted to live her life - normal challenges for a beautiful 22 year old.
On May 1st of last year, Ashley had an MRI to find the cause of her continued sinus issues previously blamed on allergies. A week later she was told the tumor uncovered was malignant. She was diagnosed with Sinonasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma (SNUC) which is a rare and highly aggressive neoplasm arising from the nasal cavity. According to the Cayman Biomedical Research Institute (CaBRI), fewer than 100 patients have ever been diagnosed, and there appear to be only a handful alive in the US at any one time.
By July, despite the various chemo and radiation treatments, Ashley’s tumor was growing rather than shrinking and pain management became a major focus. All the while, Ashley believed that she would find her miracle. By August in was in her lymph nodes and quickly spread to her spine. But she still believed in her miracle and did not loose faith. Every day at 11:00 am Ashley and her mom Barb would pray; together or together on the phone, they would pray for Ashley’s miracle.
On December 1st, three days before her 23rd birthday, Ashley lost her battle. But for Barb perhaps her toughest battle was just beginning. Barb understands grief. She was only 8 when she lost her father. And as was the times and the stoic Midwestern spirit, you boxed up your grief and carried on. Barb’s dad was 40 when he died and as Barb approached that age she felt a deep need to grieve the loss of her father. So for about nine years Barb did grief counseling but it did not prepare her for the loss of her child. “I thought I knew what people were going through, but I had no idea,” Barb shared with me. “I didn’t know it could hurt this bad or this deep.” “One day I realized that as difficult as it was to accept, Ashley’s miracle was not a cure but to be a part of the cure” she continued. And towards that end Barb has founded Ashley Abernethy's Purple Star Memorial Fund.
While research on cancer is ongoing, research on SNUC is virtually nonexistent. The treatment protocol for SNUC is drawn from successful treatments of other malignancies. Because it is so rare, it does not get studied in great depth. Initially Ashley’s foundation has chosen to work with 2 organizations, both of which ironically, had either an employee or student succumb to this disease. Both organizations have committed that all funds will go towards SNUC research. The Cayman Biomedical Research Institute (CaBRI) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. It is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the research campus of Cayman Chemical, a global biomedical research company. CaBRI employee Andrei Makovik was employed in the Information Technology department at Cayman Chemical when he was diagnosed with SNUC.
At Tulane Medical School, medical student Andy Martin was diagnosed with SNUC in 2003. At that point he sidestepped the clinical duties of a typical third year student and, under the mentorship of Dr. Tyler Curiel, learned how to do the type of research that would further understanding of SNUC.
Working through the Greater KC Community Foundation donations will used to support and benefit these two programs. For more information on the foundation and to contribute please visit https://gkccfonlinedonations.org/ashley/ashley.asp
Ashley Abernethy's Purple Star Memorial Fund Fundraising Event Silent Auction and Raffle will be Saturday, May 1st, 2010 6 pm to Midnight at Bliss Plaza, 1303 West Main Street, Greenwood, MO 64063. Donations upon entrance: $20.00 for 21 and over. $10.00 for 20 under. All proceeds will help fund research for an extremely rare and agressive cancer known as SinoNasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma. Live entertainment courtesy of 71 South Band (www.71southband.com)
Ashley Abernethy's Purple Star
Memorial Fund Kickoff Fundraiser
By Mary Pechar
Thanks to everyone who
contributed and participated in Ashley’s Memorial Fund Kickoff Event.Your response has been fantastic and over
$18,000 was raised.For
more information on the foundation, updates on our progress and to contribute