Ashton's Journey

During the summer after Ashton’s freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill, she was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. She was determined to go back for her sophomore year at UNC, and she did, only days after first chemo treatment! She attended classes and participated in sorority recruitment, even as she was losing her hair and feeling sick. During bid week, she underwent chemo for 5 straight days, but still managed to participate in the activities. On bid night, she recieved a bid from Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA)and was ecstatic to join the sisterhood! By Thanksgiving of that year, Ashton was so sick that she was unable to return to UNC for the spring semester. She finished her 10 months of chemo and radiation in May of 2008 and within two weeks she had moved back to Chapel Hill and enrolled in summer classes! Six months later she found out that the cancer had returned in her lung. She finished the semester and then underwent a major operation to remove the cancer. She once again left school for the spring semester to recuperate and undergo eight more months of intense chemo. Whenever she felt good, Chapel Hill was where she wanted to be and she spent many weekends at her beloved UNC. In August of 2009 she completed the chemo only to find out that the cancer again appeared in her lung. She underwent more chemo, but was able to remain in school at UNC for the fall semester. In November of 2009, scans showed that the chemo was not working, her disease was progressing and her options were running out. Some dear friends of the family started a campaign to grant Ashton’s wish to go to Paris for Christmas. Through the generosity of hundreds of friends and strangers (Ashton’s Angels), she and her family went to Paris in December 2009! She was also able to travel to Key West with her dearest friends only three weeks before she died. She battled this horrible disease for two and a half years and inspired hundreds of people with her grace, determination, courage and hope. She was a talented artist and dreamed of owning her own gallery. She loved photography, music, reading, spending time with her family and friends and cheering for her beloved Tar Heels. She will always be remembered for her beautiful smile that could light up a room!