Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

Ashley Mahaffey is Tackling Lung Cancer

Today, a remarkable woman shared her mother’s story with Chris. Team Draft is proud to share the Ashley Joy’s story of her mother, Patricia Mahaffey.

Dear Chris,

I always say the message you need to hear will find you…I believe you are my message. Around 4:00AM on Monday, February 27, I woke up to a commercial for an 11Alive news piece about you wife, Keasha. At First, I thought I misunderstood your story so ; I rewound the DVR and played it again. Then, I started crying.

On September 1, 2007 (my 29th birthday), my mother was diagnosed with non-small cell stage IV lung cancer. She had just turned 60 in July. While not as young as your wife, my mother was very healthy. She was aware of how poor diet and exercise could shorten the lifespan of an African-American female. She made point to eat well, exercise regularly, take care of the house and yard and stay active with the friends. In addition, she was a non-smoker. She was a great example!

Before her diagnosis, my mother was known for having this cough. She went to the doctor, but no one thought to perform a chest scan or check for cancer because she did not smoke. She went to the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack. It was then; they diagnosed her with pneumonia and lung cancer.

Over the next 18 months, my mother fought a tough battle. She went through chemotherapy. It then spread to her brain and she went through radiation. The tumors shrunk and grew and shrunk and grew. It was a roller coaster. On March 4, 2009, Jesus called her home.

It has been almost three years and I miss my mom so much. I try to honor her memory by letting everyone know her story. I tell people, “My mom had cancer.” They say, “I’m sorry. What kind?” I reply, “Lung.” Their facial expression changes from sympathy to judgment. I continue with,” She never smoked anything.” Their face changes from judgment to guilt.

I know if more people were aware that non-smokers get lung cancer too, more research and funding would be made available. For my mom, I believe it is our genetic cancer because she lost a sister (my aunt) to and has a nephew (my cousin) with lung cancer. Neither of them smoked.

I thank you for listening to my mom’s story. I thank you for what you are doing. I thank you for telling your wife’s story. You touched someone who was feeling alone and needed to hear your message.