Ashley Zell is a vibrant, intelligent, beautiful young woman who so many of us are proud to call our family, friend, student or colleague. In her free time, she likes to travel with her boyfriend, watch movies with her family, and hang out with her friends. Her favourite hobbies include reading, baking, and colouring. She also enjoys spending time playing with her cat, Oliver. However, she has experienced a significant bump in the road and we are hoping you can help her as she continues on a difficult path.
In June 2017, Ashley injured her ankle. In the beginning, it appeared to be a simple sprain but as time passed, it did not improve with physiotherapy or medication. The pain in her left leg worsened and the muscle began to atrophy. In September 2017, small red bumps began to appear on her ankle. From September to November, the small bumps grew in size and became increasingly painful. An initial punch biopsy of the painful lumps was performed in November and sent for testing.
In November 2017, her initial biopsy indicated that she had abnormal spindle cells in the tissue. This indicated that it may be a tumour. Further tests showed more devastating signs: x-rays indicated that some of the bones in her lower leg and foot were beginning to erode. This sounded the alarm for her physician and she began to undergo an additional number of lab tests, biopsies, and MRIs.
December 8th, 2017 confirmed everyone’s worst fears: Ashley had a tumour. The type of tumour was still unknown as definitive pathology results still had not been completed from her initial biopsy, so she was referred to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre for further diagnosis and treatment. Ashley underwent additional MRIs, CT scans, biopsies and bone-scrapings between January and February to determine if the tumour was benign or malignant.
In March 2018, Ashley learned that she has an extremely rare type of cancer called pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma . Due to the unusual nature of her case, her biopsy samples were sent to an international sarcoma expert in Boston for confirmation of the diagnosis. The tumour is locally aggressive, and has extended into the bone, skin, and muscle tissue of her foot and ankle. Unfortunately, this uncommon type of tumour has a propensity for local recurrence. Her only treatment option will be life-altering: a below-knee amputation .
Ashley is scheduled for her pre-operative appointment on March 26th with her below-knee amputation taking place a few days later on March 28th. She will spend four to six weeks undergoing rehabilitation with the goal of coming home with her first prosthetic limb.
How You Can Help Ashley
Ashley is the most tenacious human being I have ever met and I am extremely lucky (and proud to call her my friend). Despite her diagnosis, she remains in her program at Conestoga College completing her final year of the Bachelor of Environmental Public Health (and still at the top of the class) with the goal of becoming a Public Health Inspector. She should be enjoying her twenty-somethings with her boyfriend, her cat, her friends, travelling the world and starting her career. Unfortunately, she has cancer to battle with first.
Contributions to Ashley’s Medical Fund will support the cost of a prosthetic limb, medical supplies and associated medical expenses. Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program only covers 75% of a prosthetic limb which can range in cost between $5000 to $50000. While Ashley is recovering, she will also be residing in a rehabilitation centre associated with Sunnybrook Hospital.
Please consider a donation to help Ashley fund her new prosthetic limb and support her on her long road to recovery. If you do not have the financial ability to support Ashley at this time, please consider sharing this page through social media with family and friends.
- Leanne Middleton
- Dennis Nay
- Sandra Morrison
Organizer and beneficiary
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