At the age of 22, Ashley McRoy was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and given a 20 percent chance of survival. Doctors at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center made sure she made it to her wedding day — and beyond.
It was a joyous, teary-eyed day at Kleinfeld, the famous New York City bridal boutique and setting for TLC’s hit show, “Say Yes to the Dress.”
Bride-to-be Ashley McRoy, 28, radiated grace in her sleek white gown. Even her father, Jerry, the group’s harshest critic, glowed. Trying on wedding dresses is a dream come true for most women; but for Ashley and a team of Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center doctors and nurses, this made-for-TV moment represented so much more.
That’s because Ashley has now been cancer-free for 18 months, and she credits Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center with her recovery from a rare and deadly form of cancer.
Seven years ago, Ashley was attending Raritan Valley Community College. She was also just starting her modeling career when she felt a hard knot by her belly button. Two weeks later, the knot had grown bigger. Ashley’s mother, Louise, called the fam¬ily doctor, which led to a CT scan and the shocking news: Ashley had stage 4 signet cell adenocarcinoma in her colon.
“The cancer was incredibly rare and high risk,” says Myron Bednar, M.D., Medical Oncologist and Director of Clinical Trials at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center. Ashley was given a 20 percent survival rate.
“Her type of colon cancer wasn’t typical,” explains Dr. Bednar. “This one featured more aggressive cells.”
Hunterdon Healthcare staff began treatment right away. Cancerous tumors were removed from Ashley’s colon and abdominal cavity. After the surgery, she utilized Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center’s considerable resources.
“She benefited from our social services to help her cope, though she did a great job on her own,” Dr. Bednar says. “She worked with a dietitian for nutritional help while going through biological therapy, and she got state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radia¬tion treatments.”
It was a long journey: The cancer recurred in October of 2012, and had spread to part of her kidneys. She needed a second surgery, and then returned to Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center for follow-up care.
After a final round of chemotherapy and radiation, Ashley at last received the news she longed to hear: the cancer was gone. Today, with cancer behind her, the Wilhelmina-represented model and graphic designer is continuing to model, and wants to share her story with others.
Most importantly, she wants to savor life, starting with her April 5 marriage to boyfriend James Disney, who was constantly by her side throughout treatment. In fact, Ashley was featured on “Say Yes to the Dress” in part be¬cause of her incredible cancer recovery.
“I’ve been so incredibly blessed,” she says. “I want to move forward, to look at life more positively. I’m learning to see the glass as half-full.
“Everyone at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center treated me amazingly,” she adds. “They are my family.” In fact, Dr. Bednar, along with gastroenterologist Samuel Bae, M.D., and surgeon John Bello, M.D., were invited to Ashley’s wedding.
“James and I have been through a lot,” Ashley jokes. “We can survive being married!”
CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR RISK FOR CANCER? Learn more about the Family Risk Assessment Program (FRAP) at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center by calling 908.237.2330.
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