Hello, my name is Joe. My wife Heather and I are extremely proud to be Dancing for Gold® this year. We are dancing in honor of David and Gail Ashburn. These two phenomenal people met and became high school sweethearts later marrying as David attended his undergrad at Murray State, and Gail finished a business program joining a small start-up company that would later be known as Collector Books. 6 years into their marriage they welcomed a son who was happy and healthy. All seemed well until 9 months later when they noticed some concerning findings. Several local physicians brushed off Gail’s concerns as a worried mother. Eventually, she found a physician willing to sit down and listen. Within a single visit, he sent the worried parents and baby boy to the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. After several tests, it was confirmed that he had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. A comprehensive plan of surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapies was formed, and the physicians got to work. Many barriers clearly stood in the way between the boy and the hope for cancer freedom. Because of this, David and Gail reached out to countless area churches for prayer and received assistance from family, friends, her employer, and the community as a whole. What seemed like an impossible task began taking shape as testing and treatments started to improve. After several years of chemo, radiation, and a radical surgery their boy was declared cancer-free. With the help of their family and community, David and Gail had mustered up the courage and resources to spend countless hours on the road and away from work to be at his bedside in Nashville. As the years continued to march on, lingering medical bills and routine checks often dominated their life. Not once did they complain, miss a visit, or even miss a payment.
As their son aged, his family would often recount the heroic efforts of the medical staff including doctors and nurses that made the difference. Family dinners became a hot spot for recounting the difficult times and joys of the successes. Before long it became to their son that God had reason for him being there. He owed a debt to not only the medical field, but to his community that had supported his family through their battle. To that end, he began focusing intensely on his studies and put his focus on fulfilling God’s purpose. 8 years later, his entire family watched in tears as he walked across the stage wearing the coveted green cap and gown signifying he had graduated medical school. He went on to specialize in neurology and came back to his hometown to keep that promise and fulfill a debt that he will never be able to repay.
I share this story because I hate cancer. And while there are sad stories surrounding pediatric cancer, what I want you to know is there are also successes. When the community bands together and fights together, we can beat it. So please join me in saying to pediatric cancer, “No, you’re not welcome in our town. When you attack one of us, you’re going to get all of us!”
Joseph Ashburn, MD
Pediatric Cancer Survivor
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A TABLE FROM DR. JOSEPH AND HEATHER ASHBURN