There are so many things in our life that we take for granted and as cliché as it is- you never truly know what you have until it’s gone. The summer before I started 5th grade is when my life got turned upside down. I was only 10 years old when I found out that my mom had cancer. My mom was the most courageous, selfless, and caring person I have ever known. She put so much thought into everything and loved my brother and I more than I can even describe. She put a special touch on everything from our birthday parties to family vacations. Every holiday was just a little more magical because of her and she would do anything she could to help make somebody else happy. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, though she never smoked a day in her life. The cancer eventually spread to my mom’s brain and she underwent brain surgery to remove one of the tumors. She went through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery—but never gave up throughout it all. After a long, courageous battle with lung cancer my mom passed away at the young age of 45. I can’t even put into words what it was like at 12 years old to watch my mom take her last breath. It is an image that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The days following my mom’s death were hard and I just didn’t understand why this happened. Growing up without my mom has been challenging. There are days when all I can do is cry and days where I would give anything in the world just to be able to talk to my mom. There are so many moments in life that a young girl just simply needs her mom. I still don’t have the answers that I want, but I’ve found a way to turn my grief into a passion.
I first got involved in the Lung Cancer Initiative of NC when my family and friends participated in the annual 5k. Our amazing team, JoJo’s Family Circus, has been participating in the annual 5k for 10 years now and has raised over $10,000 to date for lung cancer research. As I became older, I found a passion for creating lung cancer awareness. I got involved in other events such as health fairs and volunteering at the canes game. The Lung Cancer Initiative has given me an opportunity to help make a difference and I am so grateful. I do what I do because I hope to end the stigma that lung cancer is a smoker’s disease. The statistics are devastating and something needs to be done for the lack of funding this awful disease receives. I will continue to spread awareness and raise money in the hopes that no other 12 year old will have to watch their mom take her last breath.
- Ashley Corn