Have you ever faced the reality that life is about to change?
My name is Ford Ash Jr, and the event that changed my life was that dreaded “C” word, CANCER. This journey taught me much about life.
Truths I’ve learned: Attitude is more important than diagnosis
At age 50, I was healthy, an avid runner and in great shape. During one of my runs I felt my right knee begin to hurt. When it didn’t improve, I went to the doctor and the MRI showed a suspicious growth.
On August 24, 2009, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma which is an aggressive, very rare form of bone cancer. The doctor explained that there was a 70-80% deterioration of my femur bone. He was surprised I was still able to walk and recommended I start chemotherapy immediately.
The strength of my faith allowed me to realize that my attitude was going to be key in dealing with this disease. Cancer could not take away what was most important to me, my wife, children and family. I was determined to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity. I chose to live life to the fullest and focus only on the things I could control. Many hours of doctor visits, hospitalizations, rounds of chemotherapy and rehabilitation would dictate my life for the next several months. No matter what you are facing your attitude is key to victory.
Support is crucial in life
By November 2011, the cancer had metastasized to my lungs. I expressed my desire to stop chemotherapy after learning it was no longer effective.
On June 29, 2012 my doctor asked, “Would it be okay if I referred you to hospice?” As many people do, I had the wrong perception of hospice. I still had a lot of living too do. After the doctor explained how the benefits would help me and my family, I decided to speak to a hospice representative. Choosing Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) was one of the greatest decisions I ever made.
- I was glad my doctor decided to refer me to hospice early enough to get the support I needed.
- Hospice of NGMC staff were warm and friendly and all the questions my wife and I had were answered thoroughly.
- I no longer spent my valuable time going back and forth to the hospital. Instead, I received care in the convenience of my home.
- No more running to pharmacies because hospice paid for medications related to my diagnosis to be delivered to my door.
- My hospice nurse collaborated regularly with my physician to manage my symptoms.
- Medical equipment was delivered to my home at no cost.
- Hospice of NGMC even coordinated a hospice resource for our out of town travel.
- The Hospice team fully supported my choices to continue to live actively while I completed my “bucket list.”
One of Ford’s legacies was to educate people about hospice care and what a huge difference it made in the quality of his life. Ford Ash and his wife, Chris, participated in a live video describing his hospice experience. Ford passed peacefully 3 weeks after the video was completed. Ford's story will continue to impact many lives through the example of his attitude and faith.