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Banding Together

Banding Together 

Ashlie Thornbury’s mother, Victoria, has undergone treatment for breast cancer twice. This is their story in Ashlie’s words.  

My mother, Victoria, was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. I was 13 years old and my little brother, Zachrey, was 3. 

The three of us banded together and got through it somehow. Surgery, chemo, radiation. Then my parents divorced and my mom, Zachrey and I underwent a huge move from Florida back to Pennsylvania where my mother grew up. 

Ten years later, when my mom turned 45, we learned her breast cancer had returned. Same breast. I was 23 and my brother was 13. 

Once again, we banded together. Mastectomy, chemo, hair loss. I’ll never forget shaving my mother’s head in our backyard that fall, her hair seeming to gently float on top of the vibrant leaves. We learned my mother carries the BRCA2 gene mutation of unknown significance. So do I.  

While my mom was undergoing treatment, her little sister, my Aunt Amy, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain tumor. Our family was in shock. Thanksgiving that year was takeout. Christmas shopping was put on hold.  

We leaned on each other during this time, through the good days and the bad. By the following spring, our hope started to come back, just as the tree in our backyard started to bud. Sadly, my Aunt Amy passed away two years later at age 39 from brain cancer. But my mother survived. 

A few years ago, my brother and I took our mother to Italy. Just the three of us. It was nice to band together again, but this time to explore, learn, have fun and, perhaps most importantly, eat! We made many beautiful memories on that trip.  

Today, my mom is 63. I’m 41 and my brother is 31. I have two little girls, Zoa and Thea, who are my mother’s pride and joy, and my brother just got engaged. We try to celebrate life and Amy’s memory each day. These new memories can never erase the sad ones, but I’m happy to report, the happier memories gently float to the top. 

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.