NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- Right before 18-year-old Ashleigh Armstrong started her college career at Pasco-Hernando State College, she found a lump on her neck.
The New Port Richey girl was in disbelief.
Days earlier, Ashleigh's stepmother Maria learned she had cancer. Could this really be happening to her, as well?
“My stepmother was just diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Ashleigh. “There’s no way I’m going to be diagnosed with cancer, too.”
Eleven days after her stepmom’s scary diagnosis came her own equally bad news. She had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Instead of letting this one-two gut-punch destroy them, Ashleigh and Maria decided to focus only on the positives. And each other.
“I figured it was just meant to be,” says Ashleigh. “So we could be there for each other.”
“We feed off each other,” says Maria. “Ashleigh is very inspiring. She’s just amazing.”
As they bolster each other, they are also supported by the faculty and students at Pasco-Hernando State College.
Teachers are helping with schedules. The women’s volleyball team is hosting a fundraiser.
“We are just so inspired by their story,” says school president Dr. Timothy Beard. “They inspire me. They inspire the college.”
A GoFundMe page was also set up to help Ashleigh and Maria with their medical costs. If you would like to contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/2zyapb-armstrong-family.