COLUMBUS, Ohio — Before you know what Ashley Gregg does you have to understand why she does it.
“Because I understand the fear,” she said. “I understand the heartbreak and I can connect more with people and make an impact on their lives when I truly understand.”
She understands. She gets it. She knows what it’s like to lose.
In 2017, her son Deany was diagnosed with DIPG, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a brain cancer. Deany was given nine months to live.
“He proved statistics wrong time and time again,” she said.
He went well beyond that timeline.
Thanks to fundraising, Ashley and Deany traveled to Mexico every 17 days for cancer treatments not offered in the United States. Then, in late 2018, Deany passed away. He was 7 years old.
“I miss everything about him,” Gregg said. “I wish I wouldn’t have had to go through it. I wish he was here.”
Through pain came purpose. All of it, Ashley says, was for something; the research, the clinical trials, the hospitals, the loss.
The need to remember.
“It’s so important to remind them to take it all in and to be happy and for the families to remember,” Gregg said.
For the last eight months Gregg has been working at The James as a patient care associate and helping cancer patients find the good.
“One of the last things that Deany said before he passed away was that you don’t live your life for you,” she said. “You live your life for other people.”
The days can be hard and heavy. It’s why she does it; she understands.
“It is heartbreaking,” Gregg Said. “But, it’s absolutely a humbling experience to be able to have someone trust you enough to be there for their last breath.”
She does it for them. She does it for Deany.
Gregg is also an advocate for education and awareness surrounding childhood cancer. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month.