Almost twenty years ago Ashley and her brother, who were both diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at birth, had their wishes granted by Make-A-Wish Maine. Today, almost ten years after her brother tragically passed away of the illness, she explains how Make-A-Wish Maine gave her special memories of their childhood together that have made a lasting impact on her life, as well as the lives of those close to her.
The diagnosis led to many childhood years cooped in the hospital, suffering countless appointments and surgeries to monitor the CF. By the time Ashley was referred and approved of her wish, she was thirteen and her brother was fourteen. The close siblings decided to ask for their wishes granted at the same time, and involved one another in each wish.
After much thought, Ashley decided to have her and her brother’s rooms redone as a giant room makeover wish. Her brother, chose to fly his family to Seattle, Washington to meet Ken Griffey Junior for his wish. At the time, Ashley remembers thinking her favorite part of the wishes were all of the little enhancements Make-A-Wish Maine added to make their days even more special. She looked back on the limo rides, shopping sprees and the special day when she and her family were able to hang out in the dug out with Ken Griffey Junior before the game during her brother’s wish.
“Now looking back from adulthood, my favorite thing was that my brother and I both shared our wishes with each other,” Ashley reflects, “My brother passed away in 2008. At the end it was painful, it’s painful still, but these memories are ones that I cherish and will for the rest of my life because they were so special to both of us.”
Ashley is able to look back on this particularly special part of their lives and remember her brother in this unique way. As she grew further into her teen years, Ashley unfortunately spent a lot more time in the hospital trying out different medicine and new treatments. She tried to live as normally as she could into her adult years. She still had to spend a decent amount of her time trying to better the CF, but she also made time for the activities and people that were important to her. Almost a year ago, Ashley was finally given the second chance she deserved.
“On September 23, 2016, I received a life changing double lung transplant,” Ashley explains, “Now that I have been blessed with such a wonderful gift and a new chance at life, things are different. I still take a lot of medication and have to take very good care of myself, but I’m breathing the best I ever have in my entire life.”
Today, those new lungs are still properly cooperating and Ashley is able to live her best life; however the road to get there was nothing short of a battle. She often looks back on the lasting impact Make-A-Wish made on her life. She finds comfort sharing her wish story with others, especially those with young ones struggling.
“Make-A-Wish provides such an escape for children with illnesses,” Ashley explains, “It gave my brother and I both the opportunity to feel, see, and experience things we may never had the chance to do.”
When asked what advice Ashley might give to other children trying to live their everyday lives with CF she responded: “I would tell them to be strong and know that they are loved, to always work hard and live life fully, to enjoy every moment with family, and to cherish their wish and take lots of pictures!”