Ashtyn has fought Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) twice. She was first diagnosed in July 1999 and again three years later. In both cases, her treatment at Riley Hospital involved two and a half years of chemotherapy, plus radiation after her relapse. A life threatening fungal infection prevented Ashtyn from undergoing a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, although many matches were found. A trial medication proved to be a miracle drug that helped Ashtyn overcome daunting odds.
"After Ashtyn was diagnosed with leukemia, we had the opportunity to meet many champions along our road to a cancer free life," Kerri, Ashtyn's mom, adds. The Brown family found them first in their community; Ashtyn's father Steve is a firefighter, and the Richmond Fire Department and town rallied behind them. A run/walk event called Ashtyn's Fire Run raised $40,000 toward her medical expenses and launched the Dalmation Foundation to help the families of other critically ill and injured children.
Ashtyn never forgets the other champions in her life the staff at Riley Hospital, especially the late Dr. Jeffery Goldman, and other Riley kids who became her close friends, some of whom lost their own battles against leukemia. "She is who she is because of the people who have crossed her path," her mother said.
"She has the daunting responsibility of carrying the torch for those how did not win their fight against cancer," says Dana Shank, the mother of Ashtyn's friend Alexa, who passed away in September 2006 at age 10. "Ashtyn, her family and community embody evertything that defines a Riley Champion"
Update: Ashtyn is now a sophomore at Ball State. She is a member of the Ball State Women's Golf Team. She was also a summer intern with the Golf Channel.