Auburn mom advocating for routine eye exams after friends help find cancer

Health

AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – An Auburn mother hopes to help others by sharing how two observant friends led to an unexpected diagnosis. Ashley McCrary says a Memorial Day beach trip; then dinner led to a cancer diagnosis and intervention that’s helped her prolong her life.

This past weekend, families gathered on the campus of Auburn University, celebrating a significant milestone in life, college graduation. Among them, the McCrary family, cheering on their son Jackson as he graduated from Auburn University.

“It means more. It just means more because we don’t take it for granted that I am here and able to celebrate big events and the small ones. I am at a point where we are taking everything one day at a time,” said McCrary.

In 2012 on a Memorial Beach trip, a friend noticed a spot in Ashley’s eye and showed the young mother. Then, a month later, at a dinner for Oncology doctors, another friend spoke up.

“She said you have something on your eye. Come over and show it to my husband, who was a doctor, and he said you need to have that looked at as soon as possible,” said McCrary.

Ashley took his advice, and three months later, had her right eye surgically removed after she was stunned to learn she had a rare and aggressive form of cancer, Ocular Melanoma.

“I would definitely be in a different place had two friends not pointed this out. I was able to have my eye removed and hopefully slow down the progression,” said McCrary.

Ashley was determined to share her story with others. She built a robust social media presence, advocating for current Ocular Melanoma patients while urging routine eye exams with dilation for all. Ashley’s openness has led to early diagnosis for others and shared hope.

For eight years, Ashley’s routine scans were clear. Then, in October 2020, she learned the cancer had spread to her liver.

“It had metastasized to my liver. I have over 100 tumors right now. I am undergoing treatment in Philadelphia. I have amazing doctors here at the Cancer center, but this is rare cancer, so Philadelphia specializes in this treatment for this cancer,” said McCrary.

Ashley travels to Philadelphia for treatment every month, her loving husband by her side.

“I am in a life-prolonging type of treatment now. There is nothing that can eradicate this disease. But, I believe it’s possible in a year or two something will come along that can help me,” said McCrary.

This Sunday, on Mother’s Day, Ashley’s son Jackson, the recent Auburn University graduate, will board a plane and head to the City of Brotherly Love with his mom as she undergoes her 8th treatment at Jefferson Hospital.

“My husband is a rockstar, and my family is amazing. We put our Faith in the Lord, and we know He has written out my days before I was even born. I know He is giving me the strength to get through this,” said McCrary.

While Ashley’s focused on Faith and family, our community also sees Ashley’s overwhelming love for all, and we are better for it. Ashley is an active voice on social media, sharing her journey with others. May is Melanoma Cancer Awareness Month, and Ashley is often posting, advocating for others living with cancer, and sharing critical tips focused on early detection for better outcomes.

For those who want to follow Ashley’s story – she welcomes you to her Facebook page.

We wish Ashley and her family all the best as they continue their fight.

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