December is the time for gift giving, sharing meals with family, and celebrating life! For Al Ashworth of Lebanon, Tennessee, December of 2016 brought a diagnosis that would change his life forever. Now, one year later he has much to celebrate, but it has been a challenging twelve months.
Ashworth had been experiencing persistent, but routine symptoms like coughing and fatigue for some time. For a while he passed them off as the effects of aging or stress, so when he received the diagnosis of Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia or CLL, he was shocked and began thinking about his family and business. “When you hear something like that, you immediately start asking, ‘What are my chances?’” says Ashworth.
The prognosis was not good and the best his doctor would say is, “Let’s just try to hold this thing off.” Chemotherapy treatments were ordered once a month, but Ashworth was surprised at how good he felt, “I was never really down from the treatment. I felt so blessed and almost a little guilty. ‘Should I be more sick than this?’ I thought.”
Though Al felt well enough to work throughout most of his illness, the medical bills began piling up and as a small business owner, the cost of health insurance was overwhelming. This is where Sherry’s Run, a local grassroots non-profit, was able to step in and relieve that financial burden. “I don’t know where I would be without Sherry’s Run…possibly bankrupt!” says Ashworth.
This summer, he completed his treatments, and was amazed to hear his doctor say the word he had prayed for: remission! “But, God has something for me to do,” says Ashworth. And he is certainly doing it! In September, Al volunteered as a photographer for the 14th Annual Sherry’s Run 5K. In December, he will again volunteer his services at a special Breakfast with Santa event hosted by Sherry’s Run for patient families with young children.
Al’s gifts do not stop there. He is also in the process of publishing his seventh book, No Snow Days, from which he will donate a portion of proceeds to Sherry’s Run. “My objective is to use the talents God has given me and pay it forward. I don’t know where I would be without Sherry’s Run, so now I want to help be that help for others.”
“Al’s story is a beautiful picture of the way Sherry’s Run blesses this community. Over and over again, we get to see our patients and their families get behind this ministry and find ways to bless others. What an awesome thing to be a part of!” says Alisa Eakes, Patient Assistance Coordinator for Sherry’s Run.