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April 29, 2010 - Image 47

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-04-29

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Western High School.
"I became very professional using

excuse both have had

them," Ashley says. And even after
they had been discarded, she often
automatically reached for them when

cancer, "we share this
sort of connection," says

Ashley Goldberg, right,

she woke up in the morning.

of her relationship
with her morn, Alyss

A Wish Fulfilled

who helps manage h

During that time, the Make-A-Wish
Foundation of Michigan provided
a respite for Ashley and her fam-
ily, when it fulfilled her wish to meet

Growing Wings jewels


the cast of the ABC-TV sitcom Full
House, flying her family and a close

friend out to Los Angeles.
"I remember sitting in my wheel-
chair and watching these stars (espe-
cially Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen) in

front of me," Ashley says. But more
important, she and her family "didn't
think about cancer for a whole week."

As she approached her teens,
"things were starting to get back to
normal, yet I lacked a sense of what

normal actually was. I often found

myself resentful of ways other had
perceived me. "I was 'the girl with
cancer' or 'the girl with no hair. —

It was in seventh grade that she
discovered a small lump on one of

her ribs that turned out to be cancer.
The rib would have to be surgically

Family Ties

removed followed by chemotherapy.
Losing her hair when she was

Mother, daughter help one another overcome cancer.

Judith Doner Berne
Special to the Jewish News


shley Goldberg says her bat
mitzvah on Mother's Day
weekend in 1997 was "a cel-

ebration of life."
As she stood at the bimah at Temple

Indeed, when Alyssa Goldberg, now

51, was diagnosed with early stage

breast cancer in 2000, Ashley says
she was more scared than her mom.
"I knew I would be okay," Alyssa says.

"It was more of an inconvenience than

But to Ashley, who was then 15, it

find the best treatment," says Howard
Goldberg, who with Alyssa and other

family members owns House of

Watchbands in Southfield.
"We posed it to her that she was
sick, she would have the surgeries and
take medication and she was going to

give up on me. —

continue on from my mom. This time, I

7 and another at age 12.
For her Farmington Hills family — dad
Howard, mom Alyssa and sister Staci

out," says Cynthia Allen, her teacher at

was there to be her support."

Maple Elementary School in the Walled
Lake School District, who has become

A Rare Cancer

a family friend.
"And her family, from Grandma
(Dolores Max of West Bloomfield) on
down, are the best," Allen says. "Their

— it was an occasion that had been

just months before.
It was a momentous Mother's Day

for her mom, knowing that the bond
between them that tightened in sick-

ness might be allowed to blossom fur-

ther in health.
"Ashley and I are very connected," her

mother says. "Sometimes, she knows

my thoughts and vice versa. Truly, truly
she has always been my thermometer

— if she was good, I was good."

It was Halloween night that the then-

second grader first experienced
extreme pain in her left leg. It was
diagnosed as osteogenic sarcoma, a

because of her previous treatments.
When one of the chemotherapy drugs

began to shut down. "As I slowly
slipped in and out of consciousness I
remember whispering, 'Mommy don't

felt I could kind of be her role model. I

hard to visualize as Ashley lay dying
from a chemotherapy drug overdose

because no boy would want a bald

girlfriend," says Ashley, who at age
25 wears her hair long and flowing.
The chemotherapy proved tricky

poisoned her system, her organs

bout of bone cancer — the first at age

Shir Shalom, West Bloomfield, no one
could mistake her victory over a second

dreaded the idea.
"I feared that all of my friends
would have boyfriends and I wouldn't

get better, Alyssa says. " Death wasn't

in her realm of thinking."
"She was a remarkable child, even
in second grade — beautiful inside and

was a chance to give back. "I get my
strength, wisdom and ability to just

younger hadn't upset her — "I wore
lots of hats." But as a pre-teen, she

rare form of cancer that had attacked

friends just united around their family."
The surgery was successful and she

her thighbone.
Her mom and dad's reluctance to

was given a 95 percent chance of sur-
vival, Ashley says. "It was a miracle."

amputate her leg, as several doctors

Thirteen months of chemotherapy

No Worse Feeling

"There's nothing worse that that feel-

ing of helplessness and not knowing
whether your child will survive the

night," her mom says.
But no one was giving up. Ashley
remembers being helicoptered to the

University of Michigan's pediatric

intensive care unit. Within 24 hours,
her condition reversed. She spent

specialized in removing tumors close

with its after effects followed. So
did numerous surgeries to further
strengthen the bone fusion in her leg.

three months in the hospital before
she was well enough to go home.
She has been in remission ever since.

to bone joints.
"We took her all over the country to

She would be on and off crutches until
she was a sophomore at Walled Lake

"I believe that part of my triumph
came from the inner strength that my

advised, led them to Seattle Children's
Hospital and a surgical oncologist who

FAMILY TIES on page 48

A rii 29 • 2010


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