THINK PINK: Family and friends of Ashley Bradford rally around her and her yearlong battle against breast cancer ahead

  • Ashley Bradford of Keene and her mother Deb Roy at the American Legion in Jaffrey Sunday. Bradford was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • Thristine Croumie and Midge Croumie, aunt and uncle of Ashley Bradford sell raffle tickets American Legion in Jaffrey Sunday, Oct. 28. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in Sept. 2018. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Eli Hodgson of Rindge sells raffle tickets at a fundraiser for Ashley Bradford at the American Legion in Jaffrey Sunday. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • Ashley Bradford of Keene and her mother Deb Roy at the American Legion in Jaffrey Sunday. Bradford was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 29, 2018 4:36PM

Friends and family of 28-year-old Ashley Bradford rallied around her Sunday at the American Legion in Jaffrey to raise money for her battle against an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“I officially got diagnosed on Sept. 26, which is ironically 11 days after my 28th birthday,” Bradford said. “I have since then accepted it and started chemo.”

For Bradford, Sunday’s gathering was a time to gather and celebrate with those who have supported her over the past month since her diagnosis.

“Everyone coming together has been extremely humbling,” she said. “I have not had to drive myself to a single doctor’s appointment.”

Bradford was born and raised in Peterborough and is a ConVal High School graduate. She later moved to Dublin, but currently lives in Keene where she works as a licensed cosmetologist at Infinity Hair Salon & Barber Shop.

“Ashley is a 28-year-old hairdresser who does not have health insurance. And with all the radiation, chemo and surgery she’s going to need, that is a lot of money for a young lady. So at this point we are rallying together, all the proceeds from this night go to Ashley,” Bradford’s aunt Thristine Croumie of Jaffrey said Sunday. “Between her family and her boyfriend’s family we’re all pitching in to make sure she gets to appointments and basically just be there for her.”

Because she is only in her 20s, Bradford had never had a mammogram and the first doctor she saw to seek an ultrasound denied her, she said.

“I found the mass myself by feeling it and it was a little bit painfully and they say painful is not cancer, but in my case it was,” she said.

She sought a second opinion from a doctor who took her concerns seriously and ordered testing. Bradford said she knew something wasn’t right and says she encourages everyone to be advocates for their own health.

“I would say that it’s your own body. I’ve lived in my body for 28 years,” she said. “I knew that something was wrong in my body so I demanded more and more answers.”

Still the news that she had cancer was a shock, she said.

“I went through, of course, every grieving process as if you had lost a loved one,” she said. “The first day I cried a lot because you don’t expect that news at such a young age.”

Her despair was followed by anger and her resolve to beat it.

“This is not something that is going to defeat me. I am going to defeat it,” Bradford said.

The first six months of her treatment will consist of chemotherapy with an infusion every three weeks for a total of six times. After that she will undergo surgery, followed by radiation treatment that will be completed about a year after her Sept. diagnosis.

The ultrasound found 8 masses in her right breast, she said, part of an aggressive form of cancer that is in stage 2.

Because it’s in stage 2 she has a good prognosis for recovery, but because it is an aggressive form of cancer she is not a candidate for a lumpectomy. Bradford said she is definitely having a mastectomy, and possibly a double mastectomy depending on the results of her genetic test.

Her paternal grandmother passed away when Bradford was only a few years old of breast cancer, she said, but other than that she has not heard of the disease running in her family.

“If I carry that gene it means I am more likely to have the cancer return,” she said, and a double mastectomy would be the best option to prevent that from happening.

Bradford began treatment at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon at the beginning of the month.

“My whole year 28 is going to be all fighting cancer. It’s not what you are expecting at this age, but I am ready to get rid of it,” Bradford said. “It’s in stage 2, so it’s very, very curable and they have good faith in me being able to pull through and make it to live a very long life.”

As the oldest sister of six children,however, Bradford said, she is not used to being the one taken care of.

“I was the one they always came to for advice,” she said. “It’s been an adjustment, but I’m getting used to it and I appreciate everything they are doing for me. I couldn’t be as strong without them there to help me.”

The money raised Sunday is to go towards Bradford’s medical bills and expenses as she fights the disease over the next 12 months.

“She’s a strong girl, she is ready to beat this,” her mother Deb Roy of Dublin said Sunday. “It’s going to be a long haul, but she’s got it.”

An online fundraiser has also been created for Bradford at https://www.gofundme.com/ashley-bradford039s-breast-cancer.