A 24-year old mother, Ashley Bridges, made the ultimate sacrifice for her unborn baby when she denied life-saving chemotherapy treatment for bone cancer. Bone cancer accounts for less than 1% of all cancers, and cancer in young adults is extremely rare. In the United States, 2,300 new cases of bone cancer are diagnosed each year.
Bridges was only 10-weeks pregnant with her daughter Paisley when she found out about her diagnosis. Her doctors recommended that she begin chemotherapy immediately. However, in her case, this would mean ending the life of her unborn baby. Bridges said, “There’s no way I could kill a healthy baby because I’m sick.”
During her third trimester, Bridges was told that delaying treatment had allowed the cancer to spread. Even though she was only in her eighth month of pregnancy, she was told she needed to deliver Paisley immediately so she could begin treatment.
But even with multiple rounds of chemotherapy, her cancer was terminal. Bridges was given less than a year to live.
Bridges said, “I felt like I tried so hard to keep Paisley safe and do the minimum [treatment] to keep her healthy. The thought that I’m not going to see her grow up is really hard.” Bridges also has a 6-year old son named Braiden who said, ‘If you pass away, I want to come with you.”
Now, friends and family are helping Bridges take care of 2-month old Paisley during the day. Her fiancé, who is in the military, helps her with their daughter at night.
The young mother has no regrets about denying treatment and choosing her daughter’s life over her own. Bridges said, “Paisley has been their ray of sunshine in a this dark storm.”
Here’s more on Ashley’s courageous story from CNN:
“When they told me that, I think oh my gosh, I am really dying. I’m not going to beat this. And then I am sad for about a week and then I get back to OK, well it’s not over yet. And then I’ll be good and then I’ll get some more bad news that it spread through my whole entire body. And then that will knock me down for about a week and then I’ll bounce back.” But Bridges admits it’s hard to be in pain all the time.
Bridges’ doctors say she has months to live, but she still has goals.
“I am really pushing for Paisley’s first birthday. This is what I do. I do October, OK, I just got to make it to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving comes around — OK, let’s just go to Christmas. Then Christmas comes and Braiden’s birthday is in March, so I’m going to make it to Braiden’s birthday. I’m just going to keep setting little goals for myself and we’ll see.”
After the terminal diagnosis, Bridges and Caughey moved their wedding date up a couple of months to this past November. Bridges brightens when she talks about her wedding day. Braiden, 6, got to walk her down the aisle.
“It just went by so fast. If I could sum that day up it would just be magical. Magical. Loved it. Loved seeing all my friends, my family all together.”
When asked about what her legacy might be, Bridges softly breaks down and says, “I want my kids to know how much I love them and how much I fought for them.”