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Motorcycle run to benefit mom with cancer
When she received the results from her MRI in January, Ashley Wagner learned the cancerous tumor growing in the center of her brain had doubled in size.
“Right now it is about two centimeters in diameter,” she told the Yuma Sun recently.
The tumor was discovered by Wagner's doctors in 2009. Soon after the discovery of her brain cancer, Wagner endured unsuccessful radiation treatments and a series of surgeries that initially paralyzed the right side of her body.
“My neurosurgeon told me it was physically impossible for me to walk again because of all the nerves he had to sever to get to my tumor because it is directly in the center of my brain in my thalamus,” she said.
She was wheelchair stricken, and as a single mother had to fend for both herself and her two young sons, aged 6 and 7.
“They really stepped up,” she said about her sons. “They have been doing their own laundry and dishes since they were 3 and 4 years old because mommy couldn't.”
Wagner was able to teach herself to walk again without assistance, but her right hand remains paralyzed and she often expereinces serious migraines. She is unable to work, but as a former special education teacher at Gila Vista Junior High, Wagner does have access to medical insurance. She also receives about 60 percent of the income she made as a teacher, but the medical bills have continued to pile up.
“At least I have insurance, but at the same time it doesn't pay the bills,” she said. “Sixty-percent of my teacher income is not very much.
She currently owes about $15,000 to credit card companies.
“I have quite a bit of credit card debt that has been racked up over the past year or so just because of my medical expenses – just trying to be able to put food on the table while paying my bills,” she said. “I always put my boys first and make sure they have what they need and I have been putting my bills on credit cards which adds up, and interest adds up.”
Presently “I am not being sent to creditors and am able to stay on top of it, but just barely,” Wagner continued, noting she does not receive government assistance. “Being a single mom is tough. This is where I am at right now, and I have to just roll with the punches.”
The medical bills will keep coming. This summer, Wagner will travel to Phoenix for another MRI to help doctors formulate a plan of action. Currently, they are taking a wait and see approach.
“They do not want to do radiation again because they feel radiation could have been the cause of it doubling” in size, Wagner said.
Aware of the financial difficulties Wagner faces, the Yuma Chapter of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club has organized the Ashley Wagner Charity Motorcycle Run to raise the money she needs for living expenses.
“Helping Ashley and her boys is important because not only is it the right thing to do, it also eases the emotional and financial strain this disease is causing her and the boys,” said James Bingham Jr., Yuma chapter business manager for Iron Order MC.
“Since Ashley cannot work any longer due to the disease, the money raised will go directly to assist her in the rising living expenses for her and her two boys.”
The run will begin at the Elk's 476 Lodge, 2300 Elk's Lane. The event is open to all Motorcycle Clubs and non-affiliated riders.
Registration will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., with the ride beginning at 10:15 a.m. Individual riders participating in the run are encouraged to donate $15, while riders with a passenger are encouraged to donate $20. The donations will include a lunch of pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw and a roll served at the Elk's Lodge between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each rider will also be entered into a raffle drawing. Additional donations will be accepted.
Those who would like to donate to Wagner, but cannot participate in the ride, can deposit money into the Ashley Wagner memorial savings account set up for this purpose at Navy Federal Credit Union, 1683 South Arizona Avenue. The account number is 3036806937.
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Wagner is “extremely grateful” to the Iron Order MC for their efforts.
“They have been amazing,” she said. “About once a week I get phone call checking on me and the boys to see if we need anything and to update me on the progress of the benefit. It has really been amazing. I am overwhelmed. It is wonderful and is truly a blessing when I need it most. I don't know what tomorrow will bring and that means more to me than anything.”