'I just want to watch my babies grow for as long as I can' - mum's fundraising for cancer treatment
A young woman suffering from cancer has launched a fundraising campaign in the hope of spending more precious time with her children.
Ashlee Blair (30), from Greenisland in Co Antrim, is battling stage 4 cancer, having been diagnosed just days before Christmas.
She wants to explore some alternative therapies to run alongside her chemotherapy treatment.
A GoFundMe page with a £10,000 (€11,500) fundraising target has been set up, which Ashlee hopes will help with the costs of her care and to support her children in the future.
The care assistant and her partner Peter (30) have three children, Amelia (4), Peter (3) and two-year-old Conor.
The young mum says her "perfect life" was thrown into turmoil when in October 2016 she found a lump in her breast.
Two months later she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.
Ashlee said: "There are no words to describe how we felt when we heard the doctor say it. I became so scared and worried for my kids.
"It was beyond surreal. One day I was planning a family Christmas and the next I've been diagnosed with cancer.
"My joy and happiness was replaced by fear and uncertainty."
Refusing to give up for the sake of her family, Ashlee began gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
"I looked at my kids and I knew I could not give up. They were counting on me and needed their mum to be strong and fight back," she said.
"The treatment was very hard and took such a toll on me. I was constantly sick, all my hair fell out and I didn't even have the energy to play with the kids.
"I was devastated but I still didn't give up, even when I had to have a double mastectomy on top of everything I was already dealing with."
After her treatment Ashlee was able to return to work and feel like a mum again.
Last year, however, she began to struggle with back and abdominal pain.
Then in July she underwent surgery to remove an ovary and growths. These turned out to be benign, and in August she celebrated one year of being cancer free.
She said: "I finally dared to hope again. It seemed as though my life would now continue on the intended course."
But Ashlee's back pain increased, then she found a lump under her arm and developed pain in her ribs.
Sadly, the week before Christmas, she received the "completely soul crushing" diagnosis that the cancer was in her neck, down her spine, in her ribs, pelvis, hips and thighbones. She said: "I felt as though I was being punished for daring to hope."
Ashlee is currently in Belfast City Hospital as her pain had grown to unmanageable levels, but she hopes to be home again with her family soon.
She has started her fundraiser to pay for alternative therapies to use alongside her chemotherapy, to give her pain relief and help with eating and sleeping.
Ashlee added: "We are also asking for help with the costs of myself being off work and in the foreseeable future my partner Peter also being off work so he can look after me.
"I just want to watch my babies grow for as long as I possibly can. If I were to pass on whilst fighting against this then I would like the donations to go towards my funeral costs and the rest for my kids."
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