Ashley Trenner’s Story

The Trenner Family has been long time friends of the ministry. Last month their daughter, Ashley, lost her battle with melanoma. Ashley was 40 years old when she died.  In her younger adult years, she was a frequent user of tanning beds.  She threw off the warnings and concerns that the use of tanning could be dangerous to her and might cause melanoma.  However before she died, she became a strong spokesperson against the use of tanning beds and regretted that she didn’t heed those warnings.  Below is her story, which was shared at her memorial service.  We share this with you knowing that God is a redemptive God. Ashley’s desire was that out of her death there might come a new awareness of melanoma – how to prevent it and find early detection and treatment.

Thank you, Bob and Karen, for allowing us to share Ashley’s story with our New Life family and audience.

AshelyIn 2003, a tiny lesion appeared on Ashley’s right buttock.  A dermatologist removed the lesion and the pathology was negative.  Within a year the lesion reappeared.  Since she didn’t have medical insurance or the money to have it removed again, she didn’t go to a doctor until the lesion got a little larger than a quarter and it became very painful.  In 2006, she went to a different dermatologist to have the lesion removed.  This time the result was melanoma.  At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance she immediately had a larger biopsy on her right buttock and a lymph node dissection in the right groin. This was crucial surgery because if the cancer spread internally the survival rate is less than 50% in 5 years, and difficult to treat. If melanoma is caught in the beginning stages and hasn’t metastasized the survival rate is over 95% and is highly treatable.  Ashley’s sentinel node, which is closest to the lesion, tested positive.  One month later she had another surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible removing more tissue and lymph nodes in the groin.  Treatment began with Interferon 2 months after this surgery.  For 3 years her checkups were negative for melanoma.  On Thanksgiving in 2009, she discovered a lump on her right hip which was diagnosed as melanoma.  In 2010, she started a series of clinical trial drug studies; MDX, Yervoy, and OncoVex.   In January, 2011, her scans showed cancer in her lymph nodes, both sides of her groin, liver, upper back, and lungs.  In October, 2011, she entered another clinical trial drug study, MEK/BRAF. The cancer eventually reached the brain and in October, 2012, she had gamma knife surgery.  Two months after this surgery she did one phase of InterLuken 2.  Her scans showed continued growth of melanoma so nothing more could be done. In January, 2013, she entered the hospital to remove 4 inches of her intestines due to a blockage.  A few weeks later she reentered the hospital to have a PEGG tube placed in her stomach. On February 6, Ashley moved to her parents where she received hospice care. On March 1, she was taken to the emergency room and the next day she was moved to the Evergreen Hospice Center. On March 11 she was taken by ambulance to her parents where she wanted to be when she died. On March 15 at exactly 5:00 am Ashley left us after her seven year, courageous battle against metastatic melanoma.

Lessons learned by Ashley:

  • Don’t use tanning beds.
  • Don’t procrastinate if you see something suspicious on your skin.
  • Do get regular skin checkups by a dermatologist.

And Mom says, “ask for help if you need it.”

Ashley’s warning about tanning beds


  1. Seattle rate the fifth highest melanoma rate in the country without tanning beds! The uv rays are very strong here in the Pacific Northwest, including Portland. Please do not add to the statistics! No tanning beds,use hats and sunscreen when feeling the rays! Thank you Ashley for sharing your story. I am on board with making it illegal for minors to use tanning salons..lets got get it passed!

  2. Beth Levine says:

    So sad to lose someone so young. My heart goes out
    To her family.
    It’s also so sad that because of the lack of insurance
    She had to postpone treatment. A decision
    That seemed inconsequential at the time.
    Hopefully ‘obamacare’ may give others
    A different choice. If it only saves others by
    Allowing earlier diagnoses it will be worth it.w

  3. Jeanne Still says:

    Thank you Ashley!

    I’m so sorry you’re not here so I could tell you….
    Yours story starts out like mine. I started tanning young. Then I stopped. I have had a few scares of melanoma and no insurance to speak of. When I turned 40 I felt old so what did I do???? I went tanning. I am going to turn 45 this month and I still have been going tanning and have my membership as of right now. I started to think maybe this isn’t such a good Idea. With your story and a few other things I will go cancel my membership today and never go back. I still haven’t been to a quite some time. Hoping to have affordable insurance soon.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I would have read your story last month but no time like the present. Thank you for the gift of your words Ashley.

    Forever grateful,
    Jeanne Still

  4. Patricia day says:

    I use to go in tanning beds,but will never go in them ever again!

  5. My heart goes out to the family. Seems Ashley left behind a lesson for a lot of people to think about. I have shared this wonderfully heart warming and sad story on my facebook pages asking for people to watch, read and share to bring awareness to tanning beds. I have never been in one, I swore them off as I am a cancer survivor
    since I was 24 years old. My prayers to the family.

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