EDITOR’S NOTE: It is with deep sadness that we update this article with the unfortunate news of Ms. Barrett’s passing in June 2017. We will post any details of services as we receive them. May her memory always be a blessing to all.
Despite growing up most of her life in Mahomet, Ashley Barrett had her sights set on independence and leaving home after she graduated high school. She attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and graduated with a B.A. in Journalism/English. Following college, Barrett moved to Chicago and began a career in marketing before realizing that the business world was not for her. She eventually settled in the northwest suburb of Elk Grove Village. During her time in Elk Grove Village, Barrett worked for five years as a Nanny, during which time, she also returned to school to follow a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. In 2012, while working as a 2nd grade teacher, married, and expecting her first child, Barrett’s self-proclaimed dream life came to a screeching halt. In the span of eleven months, everything changed. She and her husband separated (and eventually divorced), she lost her teaching job due to district budget cuts, and she was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer at 29. The one beautiful blessing that was born out of all of this mess was her beautiful daughter, Avery, who is now 3.
Barrett has recently returned to the Mahomet area and is living with her parents in her childhood home. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom to Avery, while also maintaining a personal blog about her journey. Barrett has a very active history of volunteering within the community at places such as The Center For Women in Transition, The Crisis Nursery, and being a mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. She is currently involved with mentoring new cancer patients in the Chicago area and is looking to bring similar opportunities to the Chambana Community as well.
Yes, it has been a whirlwind of unexpected events and it all hit me at once. I thought I had my version of a perfect life and then one day, it wasn’t there anymore. It was devastating to say the least, but I knew that the only way to get through it was to push forward with a positive attitude. I have a beautiful daughter to raise and she needs the best possible version of me to guide her through life. Raising Avery in a normal environment is my main priority. She is completely oblivious to my illness and rather than steal that innocence from her, I would rather spend each day smiling and making memories. Even if I have one less day on this Earth, I’m going to make it count.
Avery and I initially moved back because I needed more help as a single mom while fighting cancer. My family has always the ability to be that support for me, but it wasn’t easy with the distance so it just made sense to come back. It has actually been a wonderful blessing for us to be here because the community has also really rallied around us. We have reconnected with old acquaintances and made new friends and it has been fun to watch Avery relive some of the stuff that I did as a child too.
My current goals are pretty simple:1. I want to raise my daughter to have a healthy and happy life.2. I will beat Stage IV Breast Cancer and I also want to help people through a similar experience by acting as a mentor.
3. Write a book about my journey.
My biggest wish for my daughter is that she grows up to be a strong and fearless woman with a kind and generous heart. I want her to always have a jovial outlook on life but I want her to be fiercely independent and have the confidence to face anything. Of course, I also want her to know that no matter what happens, I love her more than she could ever imagine.
It can be hard to mentor other young patients because the first feeling I have for them when I hear the sadness in their voice is heartbreak. I know that initial feeling all too well but I also try to be encouraging and stress the importance of looking on the brightside and having faith. I firmly believe that energy we put out into the universe is the same type of energy that we attract back and so having a healthy positive attitude can be half the battle. Sometimes that is easier said than done and my job is just to listen but I enjoy being a caveat for whatever need that person has at the time because the emotions can be overwhelming.
I have always loved to write so it was very natural for me to begin my blog. It was a way to keep my family and friends informed on my health. I wanted to to give updates but I also wanted to show what it was like to live through it from my point of view and maybe even to take away some of the fear for people too. I want to continue writing my blog but I also aspire to write a book someday, based on my life’s journey. I want to share with people my experiences while encouraging them to always have a positive attitude. Please feel free to check out my blog at www.cute4cancer.blogspot.com.
I adore downtown Champaign. I love the vibe it has, I can easily take Avery to the Orpheum Museum or stop to enjoy a cup of coffee. There are tucked away shops, great restaurants, and awesome locations to indulge in cocktails for girls’ night out..it offers a lot and just keeps growing to bring more!
I love to cook and create new and healthy recipes!
Do you know someone you think is a Chambana mom or dad to know? Nominate them today!