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Ashani Riley

  • Rhabdomyosarcoma

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Ashani was an 8-year-old full of life, caring, compassionate and gentle. Her beautiful smile lit up the room and she was wise beyond her years. She genuinely cared about people.

For about three months before Ashani was diagnosed, she kept getting fevers. The doctors would tell me she had elevated white blood counts because her body was trying to fight off a virus and would prescribe antibiotics each time. One evening while Ashani was in the bathtub her mother, Chelees, noticed an egg-sized lump on her upper thigh that was not there the night before. They went to the pediatrician the next day because her mom knew something was very wrong. The pediatrician sent them to Rady Children's Hospital immediately to get an ultrasound and x-ray of the lump. Ashani was admitted and needed to have surgery to have the lump removed. That’s how they found out she had rhabdomyosarcoma.

She began treatment within a week. Her mother remembers several medications, many blood transfusions, nausea, vomiting and multiple surgeries. Ashani had a total of three relapses before she passed away from her disease.

Ashani is her mother’s hero because despite the pain and sickness she always kept a smile on her face and taught people to appreciate life. She never complained and just wanted to be happy. She could always find the good in any bad situation and her mom was amazed by her courage and fight.

Her mother wants others facing childhood cancer to know the journey will not be easy and to stay positive. Stay involved, ask questions and always make sure you have a clear understanding about any cancer information. Research and learn as much as possible about your child’s disease. She hopes to someday see a cure for all cancer and to help bereaved families through the hardest thing they will ever face.

To Ashani’s mother, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) represents someone touched or affected by childhood cancer who does not want kids to ever endure the pain her family experienced. ALSF is hope that there will one day be a cure to this deadly disease. They make the fight for families who are affected a little less stressful and help share their story.

Hero Quote:

I would just like to say a million times I've missed you, a million times I've cried. 
If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. 
To some you are forgotten, to others just part of the past; 
but to me who loved and lost you, your love will always last. 
It broke my heart to lose you, you didn't go alone, 
for my life went with you -sweetheart- the day angels called you home.
For things on earth didn't matter, but now I feel so alone, 
My heart will always be broken, my life will never be whole. 
We might be parted for a while, our hearts will always be together 
for one day soon we will hold hands again forever.

Information provided by Chelees Turner, Ashani’s mother

Updated July 2017

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Childhood Cancer Heroes