Help Heather's Family

Heather Ausman was a devoted wife and wonderful mother, she was also my best friend since the 3rd grade. She married her husband Josh when she was 21 and created a beautiful family with 3 wonderful girls. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 29 and underwent a double mastectomy not long after. Unfortunately her surgeries, chemo therapy and radiation treatments weren't enough, and 8 years later, she died at 37 in a small bed at home, surrounded by her family.

Brooke, the oldest at 13 is destined for great things and makes straight A's. She's strong, ambitious and so positive in her nature with a very contagious smile. Harlee, the middle daughter at 12 is also very smart and introspective, she has a thoughtful and tender spirit with a wiseness beyond her years. She also knows how to do a mean French braid. Then there's Josie, the baby at 10 years old, she'll give you the stink eye if she heard you calling her a baby. She's definitely the precocious one in the bunch, always telling riddles because she loves the punchlines, always looking for her moment in the sun and always ready to snuggle because underneath it all, she just wants her mom to get better and knows she won't. All of them have chinks in their armor, but you have to look hard to find them. They're strong, caring, careful with each other and wise beyond their years because their mom and dad, against all odds, made them that way.

Josh, Heather's husband deserves accolades all his own. He's been saddled with her sickness for so long that it took a major toll on their financial situation and his career goals. Their credit has been ruined which makes them unable to buy a home of their own. He currently works in waste management in their small town near Seattle and was able to take just enough time off from work to be by her side during her last few days.

Their 8 year battle consisted of unimaginable downs, sprinkled with small victories and cruel hope, only to receive more bad news after more bad news. He loved her through it all, and she loved him passionately right back. They joined their local church and would go every Sunday, at least the Sundays she could get out of bed. Heather loved their pastor and made friends easily. She found God there and knowing Him she found peace.

At the end, she was in the comforts of her home. Josh fed her ice chips and gave her sponge baths. He tried to get her to eat to no avail and knew which passages in the Bible were her favorite. She'd wake up just long enough to say, "this is my favorite verse", then go back to sleep. Those last days he didn't leave her side, and she knew he was there. They waited, huddled together. She died on a Tuesday...little Josie cried the hardest.

Their family has incurred a mountain of debt and have completely exhausted their savings and any money set aside for their kids to go to college due to Heather's medical expenses. They've been crippled financially, emotionally and are enduring a loss nobody should have to experience. A little light in their lives is due, please help them...even if it's just a little.

The burdens this family has endured are torturous and yet this is their new world, their new reality. Josh, a single father to 3 young girls has to carry both torches. He's going to be remembered many, many years from now as a hero, a patriarch, with lots of #1 dad coffee mugs everywhere...and Heather will be a proud mamma bear looking down from heaven, giggling at his missteps and beaming at his victories.

Please help this family during their painful transition in any way you can.

If you aren't comfortable donating online please email me and I'll give you a mailing address for the family. [email redacted]

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Michelle McGuiness 
Winter Park, FL
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