LIFE

Pregnant Mom Finds Lump On Neck, Then Doctors Realize They Made A Huge Mistake

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Ashley Hallford has a story so strange, with such a wildly unlikely ending, that it’s nothing short of miraculous.

Ashley was in her first trimester of pregnancy when she went to the doctor for what she thought was a swollen lymph node.

But over the course of several months, her medical team eventually realized it was a strange and aggressive cancer spreading rapidly in her body.

Just one month into her pregnancy, Ashley noticed a painful lump on the back of her head. Her doctor diagnosed it as a salivary gland infection, and it seemed to get better with treatment.

However, 32 weeks into Ashley’s pregnancy, her mysterious “infection” took a turn for the worse.

Her medical team realized that her strange lump was actually a symptom of a fast-moving cancer.

Unlike the pregnant mom who was able to go on chemo during her pregnancy, Ashley didn’t have that option. They waited just one week to give her baby a little extra time to develop, then induced labor.

Ashley was immediately put on an aggressive course of cancer treatment, but according to 11Alive, her oncologist believed she had just weeks to live.

That’s where Ashley’s story took a truly miraculous turn.

When Ashley Hallford and her husband David discovered they were expecting in 2007, they were delighted.

The two were former elementary school sweethearts who reconnected in college and were eventually married. They wanted a big family and couldn’t wait to get started.

However, Ashley’s pregnancy was marred from the beginning by what she believed was a painful salivary gland infection.

While 32 weeks into her pregnancy, Ashley realized that the swollen lump on her head attributed to her infection wasn’t responding to treatment anymore; it was growing bigger.

Trusting her instincts, Ashley asked for a biopsy. That’s when her worst fears were confirmed.

The troubling lump on the back of her head was actually a rare and aggressive form of stage 4 cancer.

Doctors couldn’t diagnose it, but they all agreed that it was moving fast. Ashley needed treatment as quickly as possible.

Labor was induced at 33 weeks, and her son Harley arrived in November 2007.

Despite arriving in the world early, Harley was incredibly healthy and well-developed. He was able to go home just two days later, while his mama began her treatment.

Her cancer team started with a surgery to remove the the softball-size mass that was spreading in her neck and jaw.

The tumor had started to grow roots into her jaw, and she had to have large sections of muscle removed.

Just five weeks after surgery, doctors discovered that, despite their best efforts, the cancer had already spread.

Just two months after the initial diagnosis, Ashley’s team discovered that the original cancer had spread to her brain, liver, and both lungs.

The brain tumor, growing right on top of her optic nerve, caused her right eye to stop functioning.

Meanwhile, doctors put her on high doses of chemotherapy and radiation treatment as a last-ditch effort to neutralize the spreading cancer.

Ashley told 11Alive: “At that point, they stopped trying to figure out what it was, saying, ‘We need to start treating her, or she’s gonna die.’”

Her oncologist, Dr. Debra Miller, added, “I never thought you would have made it.”

Despite the flat-out efforts of the oncology staff, Ashley’s prognosis looked grim.

Her brain tumor was inoperable, and chemo and radiation seemed only to encourage the spreading disease. One month after starting chemo, her scans showed she had “innumerable” tumors throughout her system.

Ashley began preparing for an ending that seemed inevitable. She took countless photos and videos with her young son Harley, so that he would have mementos of her after she was gone.

She also turned more than ever before to her strong Christian faith; her whole church was praying for a miracle.

Then, somehow, Ashley and everyone who loved her got the miracle they had been waiting for.

In summer 2008, she was waiting for what she believed would be her last, terminal scan.

Instead, her doctor was able to tell her that her disease had disappeared. Completely.

Ashley Hallford, who believed she was about to die, was in remission.

Ashley has now been cancer-free for nine years. Her incredible remission isn’t the only miracle this mom is grateful for.

Ashley and David were told that all the radiation treatments she went through meant that Harley would be their only child. The radiation had almost certainly left Ashley infertile.

Two years later, Ashley got pregnant with her second child. Once again, she was told there was absolutely no chance of another pregnancy.

Then, just last year, Ashley conceived once again. This mom, who was believed to be in full-blown menopause after her surgery, now has three beautiful, healthy kids.

She credits her recovery in part to her doctors, but also to her faith in a higher power. Ashley wants to spread the word that, even in the darkest times, it is always worth holding out hope.

Be sure to watch Ashley’s incredible video below — and if you are touched by her miraculous story, be sure to SHARE with friends and family!

Due to restrictions, this video cannot
be viewed in your region.