Last week, I talked a little about what brought me to the Ulman Cancer Fund.  I talked about Volunteer Maryland and the amazing opportunity it gave me, but I didn’t go into why I feel so connected and inspired by the UCF mission. This week, it’s time to get personal. I have overcome a few tricky obstacles in my life. I’ve been called unlucky, but I see myself as extremely fortunate. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the people in my life who inspire me daily.

Cancer and I are old frienemies. From an early age, cancer found its way into my life. My grandfather was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer when I was 7. He was my best friend. I spent everyday with him while my parents were working. He and I were buddies. I “helped” him in his woodworking shop while he made chairs and other wooden items. Every afternoon we would have a snack of red skittles because those were the only ones I liked. He would buy bags of skittles and pick out the red ones just for me (he spoiled me a little…!). To this day, I get funny looks when I pour out a bag of skittles and only eat the red one. Believe me, I’m not discriminating against the other colors, the red ones remind me of my grandpa. He was such an amazing man and never let his diagnosis affect how he approached life. He lived everyday to its fullest. It was a great lesson to learn.

By the time I was 20, numerous members of my family had been diagnosed with different forms of cancer. My mom was diagnosed two separate times before I finished college. Each diagnosis was difficult to hear. Cancer never gave my family a break. My family members who were diagnosed always looked for the good in each day and never focused on the bad. Humor became very important. My family has always been able to find the humor in life. Maybe this was their way to get through the tough times, but I have always been inspired by my family and how each person navigated a difficult diagnosis.

…then it was my turn. I never really considered myself unlucky. I considered myself very fortunate to have so many life lessons already in the bag. My family inspired me to always look for the good in every situation. Hopefully, I will continue to live by their examples.

Next Week: Towson Tackles Cancer!

About Ashley Portrey

Volunteer Coordinator, AmeriCorps member, tennis player, Thanatologist, volunteer, and bargain shopper. Loves anything green, red skittles, tennis, and traveling.
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2 Responses to Inspiration

  1. Annie says:

    This is a great post, Ashley! Love you!

  2. ryan w says:

    keep up the good work, missy!

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