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.
In 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.”