Help Ashton Afford Medical Testing and Treatment

TLDR: Hi, my name is Ashton, I’m 26 years old and this GoFundMe will help pay for testing and treatment for Graves Disease / hyperthyroidism, Lupus, and Psoriatic Arthritis along with biopsies and surgery for a precancerous condition of my reproductive system; it will also help me afford living expenses until I able to find a job. I am in a lot of pain and discomfort which is detailed towards the end of this posting, these diseases have decreased my quality of life significantly. I am unemployed and uninsured due to covid-19, have applied for over 300 jobs since the pandemic started, and have only received two responses. I am in desperate need of treatment, here are the details: 

Thank you for taking the time to read, share, and donate; every share and each penny helps. Remember not to take your health for granted. 

Hi everyone, I never thought I would be making one of these but this pandemic has made it nearly impossible for me to afford necessary medical care. This is not something that I was wanting to share with the public, but I have exhausted all other options and moved home to Greenville to lessen living expenses. In 2018 I was diagnosed with a precancerous condition and EBV, 2019 a hyperthyroid disease and psoriatic arthritis, and 2020 brought on a lupus diagnosis. I am unemployed and uninsured and have drained my savings + credit trying to stay afloat during Covid-19. 

Jumping right in, I have had four biopsies and three surgeries to remove the precancerous growths in my reproductive system, this is a continuing process as my body is still producing mutated cells. One pre-op appointment, biopsy, surgery, and a follow-up cost around $6k when I was insured; I am now 6 months past due for a biopsy to see how far the legions have spread. The surgeries have left me with daily pelvic and low back pain, the surgeon believes is this referred pain from nerve damage.

For the autoimmune diseases, I have undergone most traditional testing routes to determine the cause but still have no answers. My body irregularly tests positive and negative for different antibodies which makes specialists question if I am diagnosed correctly. I am not responding to medications and treatment so far (a year and a half in) and so my endocrinologist is pushing for the removal of my thyroid as living in a hyper-state for too long causes permanent heart damage. This can be done via surgery or radiation, neither of which would cure me (would still exhibit symptoms without as much stress on the endocrine system), but it will cause me to go into hypothyroidism which would be a fourth autoimmune condition that requires its own treatment and has its own set of symptoms. 

The other two specialists I consulted with believe that all of these conditions are linked due to the onset or timeframe in which the diseases appeared. Before removing my thyroid and continuing down the traditional route, I am hoping to work with these doctors to determine the underlying cause of the diseases and conditions rather than focus solely on symptomatic treatment. These doctors have access to the extensive diagnostic tools that are required to fully diagnose and understand my sickness. They include genetic testing, specialty blood, hair, saliva, and urine testing, full thyroid marker testing, autoimmunity testing, nutritional vitamin deficiencies markers, food sensitivity tests, and cholesterol particle testing. The tests check for everything from allergies to bacteria, neurotransmitter and adrenal markers to organic acids, minerals, and toxic panels; they examine any imbalances or deficiencies across all bodily systems. This results in a customized protocol and treatment plan which is tailored to your genetic response. This treatment will allow my body to heal on its own instead of forcing me into another autoimmune disease and a lifetime of irreversible health issues. 

It's important to me that I exhaust all options before committing myself to a lifetime of illness so I appreciate your understanding. 


So what does all of this mean? Well, it means I’m sick. Every day I suffer from an irregular heartbeat, fluctuations from high to low blood pressure, an inability to regulate my own body temperature, chronic muscle and bone pain, cyclical vomiting, migraines, muscle weakness, fatigue, panic attacks, insomnia, nausea, uncontrolled weight loss, rashes, fever, sensitivity to light, joint stiffness and pain, GI issues, and pelvic pain and cramping along with irregular, painful periods. 

How does this translate into everyday life? I’ll tell you a little bit about how difficult it is to live in a sick body when there are no moments of rest. Most days it takes me a few hours to adjust to the day, I move slowly as my body wakes up and start taking my medications and supplements on a schedule. I work through the pain and discomfort as I apply for jobs and write cover letters and sell my things online or on OfferUp (in an attempt to pay bills and afford living costs). Caffeine, MCT oil, and a variety of mushroom supplements attempt to combat the fatigue and brain fog, it can take me up to an hour to finish a paragraph sometimes (in fact it's taken me days to write this far, though part of that is from a difficulty with sharing this part of life). If it’s a bad day, I crawl back in bed and cry for a while with my dog and cat in a personal pity party. Eventually, I regain strength, take more medicine for the pain and try again, forcing myself to face reality and be productive.

On ‘normal’ days, my body shifts from overheated and sweaty while doing absolutely no physical activity back to freezing cold and shivering every fifteen minutes to half an hour. My heart races as I sit and when I stand up my vision goes black. Every now and then it looks like stars are shooting across my field of vision, simply out of nowhere. And bright everyday lights, including sunlight and car lights, cause my vision to be filled with streaks and glares. Exercising now equates to stretching (I call it seated yoga to feel better about it but it sucks), it’s been a difficult transition since I used to be a daily runner with end of year goals. There’s pain in my muscles, joints, bones, and head, it varies from day to day and new seasons bring new lessons. For me, the pain localizes in my hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. I also have pain in my pelvis from the surgeries and some of the low back and hip pain is speculated to be referred pain from the procedures. I wake most days with headaches that fade for a few hours in the afternoon before coming back in the evenings. The current tools I’m using to combat the pain are two TENS units, a cupping set, acupressure mat, muscle roller, heating pad, cold packs, tiger balm, and a massage gun. Sometimes they provide temporary relief, other times they exacerbate the pain; Every day seems to be a new trial.

Some days I'm affected by nausea and cyclical vomiting, causing me to lose nutrients and not be able to hold down medications and supplements. I can easily drop 10-15lbs in a week and then struggle to gain it back over the next month. At night, my body is unable to rest as it aches, stiffens, and tightens from the day. Sleep aids make my head loopy but nothing helps what my body feels, so the dizziness blends into the discomfort. It usually takes a few hours to fall asleep, but I shift and toss as my body tries to get more comfortable and the time I am sleeping never feels restful. It is a vicious cycle. So there’s a glimpse into what my current days have become. As you can imagine, the past two years have been a blur. It is difficult to remember years 24-26 due to being so off balance and heavily medicated. I miss my life and my health and I really hope to regain those soon. 

I don’t write this to complain but to ask for help. This has surpassed what I can manage on my own, it’s too heavy of a burden for my family to carry, and I need as much help from the community as possible and soon. Help comes in the form of a few specific things right now: donations, shares, and likes. All of the money that is raised from this campaign will go to testing and treatment for autoimmune conditions (including Graves, Lupus, and Psoriatic Arthritis) estimated at $7,000, biopsies for precancerous condition estimated at $3,000, and to pay off balances of two medical bills from earlier this year which total $1,580. The additional $3,500 would give me a headstart for another surgery to remove the remaining precancerous cells from my reproductive system and hopefully correct some of the nerve damage. This is a huge ask and a lot of money, but I hope you understand that each penny will increase my quality of life significantly and allow me to return to normalcy. 

For anyone who made it this far, thank you so very much for taking the time to read this and understand my experience as a chronically ill person. For those who are able to donate, you are appreciated beyond what my words can express. Kind and generous does not even begin to describe the type of person who spends their hard-earned money on someone else's healthcare; Thank you from the bottom of my heart for lessening this burden. And for those who share or like this post, your small gesture gives this campaign so much larger of an audience. Thank you for finding this worthy of your feed in such a chaotic time. Thank you all for reading this essay. 

Appreciate your body, be grateful for your health, be thankful that you are capable.


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Ashton Lowder 
Fountain Inn, SC
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