Supporting Ashleigh's Five

Dear friends,

Our hearts shattered together in the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 12, 2021 when our amazing Ashleigh crossed the finish line in her fight with cancer and was called home.

As we all honor her fierce devotion and unconditional deep love for her precious Five this is an opportunity for us to help Jordan and the kids.

This will take time, it will require space and so much love and support as they navigate this new path together. Jordan has been Ashleigh's main caretaker since fall of 2018 and in the last year or more has been taking on role of the main caretaker of the kids too as Ashleigh's body became weaker from not only the cancer but the effects of the chemo that was merciless. 

To honor Ashleigh and support the practical needs that will allow Jordan and the kids to have the time, and the space they need to learn this new pathway this fundraiser will be continuing for at least the next few months. 

Your love, prayers, well wishes, hugs across the miles truly meant the world to Ashleigh - and Jordan and the kids - and continue to amaze Jordan at the lives Ashleigh, and Jordan too, touched and continue to touch. 

Please keep them close in your heart and in your prayers that they continue to feel the arms of all of you holding them close and lifting them up and they walk into this new chapter, together, but yet feeling alone. 

Blessings,

Bev






Trial #3
by ashleighdueck
It was a Monday. My ever-present cough was worse, I had the sniffles, and felt generally like I had a cold. Not surprisingly, the rest of the family started showing these signs, too.

There was a time when having some slight cold symptoms had almost zero impact on the week. Not so much during COVID. You all understand. Also, not so much during cancer trials. Instead, this resulted in a flurry of tests and assessments and days back and forth from the hospital. Along with ruling out COVID, they had to check on a long list of serious complications that can result from my treatments or just from the presence of cancer itself. It’s actually exhausting to have to entertain the possibility of all sorts of serious issues whenever regular old cold and flu symptoms appear. {Spoiler: Thankfully, I just have a cold.}

On that Wednesday I had a CT of my lungs. While it showed no plural aneurism (yay!), it did show progression of the cancer in my lungs. The treatment I was on does take a little while to start producing results, and it wasn’t yet time to assess the treatment progress. We could have gone another round, waited about four weeks, and then assessed the efficacy at that point, and it would have given us a more clear and accurate picture as to whether or not the treatment was going to work.

But.

At this point in my body, my oncologists were concerned that if we waited, and it wasn’t working, we will have run out of time to try anything else. The chances that I’d be too symptomatic at that point to put my body through any further treatment are pretty high.

I could wait and see.

There is this other trial one of my oncologists had only recently discovered I qualify for. When I had my most recent biopsy (you actually feel it when needles are in your lung, FYI), Dr. A had some tissue set aside and sent it to the lab and had all the tests he could think of run on it. I had just started the second trial when the results came back indicating that the cancer cells in my body produce a certain… well, you don’t want to hear all the tedious medical details. Point being: there is a promising trial that Dr. A recently discovered I fit, and he and Dr. C were keen for me to have a shot at it. They didn’t want to wait too long and take away my chance to try this treatment.

If they could find a slot for me in that trial. You see, trials don’t have endless spaces to fill, and the timing is very precise and doesn’t always line up with the timing of the patient.

By the end of that Wednesday—the same day I had that CT—they had made lots of phone calls, and managed to get me a slot to start in December.

My dear friend is of the Orthodox Christian faith, and she gave me a prayer bead bracelet when I was first diagnosed. I wear it almost every day. Bead by bead, “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Spirit have mercy.”

Grounding me.

As I sat waiting alone to talk with my oncology team.

Lord have mercy.

As they explained the results of the CT scan.

Christ have mercy.

As they discussed my options.

Spirit have mercy.

On that Thursday, I got a call saying another spot opened up and they nabbed it for me—starting right away.

To participate in trials, you have to have a lot of preliminary tests and assessments done. The kinds of things you need appointments made in advance for. The kinds of things you can’t just get done right away. Unless you’re my research nurse, M. She worked her magic and got all the things packed into the very next Monday and Tuesday, and I started treatment on Wednesday.

Lord have mercy.

It’s a weird thing, being a lab rat. Especially in trials that are in first and second phases. They have their educated predictions on how one’s body might react to the treatment. They have maybe a handful of other humans’ histories as to how they reacted. They are extremely careful, and, not only do they make sure I’m completely informed as to the dangers, but they are diligent and exacting in trying to prevent and mitigate those negative reactions. My primary oncologist came by to check on me almost every hour the day of my first infusion, and my research nurse never left my side. For real. The only time I was alone was in the bathroom. Even then, they were right outside. Every time I shifted around or coughed, the other nurses on duty in my pod would pop their heads in: “Everything OK?” These nurses. They are incredible. Not only are they super competent in their medical care, they are super competent in their compassionate care.

Christ have mercy.

The first day of my previous trial, I had a fairly severe infusion reaction, so I was more than a little trepidatious about starting a new one. I was bracing myself—trying to walk a line between prepared for the possible dangers without falling into anxiety; between hoping for the best without being naïve. Basically, I end up taking note of my worries, and then just doing the next right thing in front of me. Sometimes that’s as simple as drinking some water or being present with the person next to me. Sometimes that’s texting my go-to friends and just letting someone else sit with me in my fear or sadness. Sometimes it’s letting someone else hope for me. Sometimes it’s seeing the bright beauty in a nurse’s smile or window with a view.

Spirit have mercy.

Thankfully, that first day of treatment passed without much trouble. I had to be admitted overnight for observation, and by the time I was sent up to my room, I was actually feeling pretty good. I had a quiet room on a quiet corner of a quiet ward. I was comfortable. I was fed. I was given cups of hot tea and words of kindness. After lunch the next day, I was back with my Five.

Lord have mercy.

Yesterday, I had my second infusion of this new drug, and, overall, things are going well.

It is heavy to know that this is likely the last treatment my body will be able to undergo. Unless it works. Then maybe I can carry on to others. If it doesn’t work, then we face the harder road. At the same time, this trial seems to be the most promising of all the treatments I’ve been offered since my diagnosis. We live in both. Another day I will write about that. But for now, dear friends, I just want you to know where things are at treatment-wise.

Christ have mercy.

Thank you for joining with me.

Spirit have mercy.
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Organizer and beneficiary

Bev Peterson 
Organizer
Toronto, ON
Jordan Dueck 
Beneficiary
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