Ashley Boothe has been engaged in a battle with breast cancer for the last seven months, but she wasn’t just fighting it for herself.
The Wesley Chapel woman was also battling for her unborn child.
On Oct. 4, at 10:17 a.m., she won part of the fight. She delivered her son, Scott Gregory Booth III. He weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 18.5 inches long.
“Mom and dad and everything is fine,” said Lilly Fontanez, a family friend, shortly after the baby’s birth.
But the little boy’s birth was hardly a sure thing.
When Boothe was just a couple weeks into her pregnancy, she found a lump in her left breast.
“I was putting lotion on to prevent stretch marks and I felt it. It was like, ‘That’s weird,’” the 26-year-old said.
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had to make a decision. The doctor had informed her that her pregnancy was still in the early term and she could have an abortion.
Boothe, however, was determined to have the baby.
“I was like, ‘That word is not in my vocabulary. It’s not an option. God didn’t give me this baby for me to terminate him.’”
Boothe, 26, said she made that decision even before she talked to the experts at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute who told her they could work around her pregnancy.
The decision still carried increased concerns about her health and about the pregnancy. So, Booth told her husband Scott she would understand if he couldn’t support her decision.
“I gave him an out card,” Boothe said. “He said, ‘Are you kidding me? You’re crazy. I’m not going anywhere.’”
Boothe made the overture, she said, because she understands that some people just aren’t built to handle these kinds of challenges.
“They can’t,” Boothe said. “It’s not that they’re not a strong person and it’s not that they’re not a good person. They just can’t bear to see people go through something like that.”
But her husband stood strong.
Choosing to have the baby has affected her cancer treatment and the baby’s birth date.
“I had a total, radical modified mastectomy,” she said, noting it had to be done in the second trimester of her pregnancy.
She has also undergone four sets of chemotherapy, where she received strange looks from people when they saw a pregnant woman on her way to treatments. While both Boothe and her husband had doubts, experts told her the type of chemotherapy she received during her pregnancy would not harm the baby.
She had to have her baby delivered at around 33 weeks, instead of the typical 40, in order for her to stay on track for her treatments. That early delivery could cause complications, but Boothe said his development is now in God’s hands.
Yet, her faith hasn’t always been this rock-solid.
Boothe struggled with it after her mother, Donna Mullens, was struck by cancer for a second time.
“I kind of had a falling out with the Lord when my mom was sick,” Boothe said.
She was a teenager when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time.
“When she got sick the first time, she didn’t even want to tell me because she didn’t want me to get upset and she didn’t want to hurt me,” Boothe said.
Her mother’s cancer returned in 2007, and by then Boothe had married and moved to Hawaii with her husband. Her parents had planned to visit her there, but had to cancel the trip when her mom got her diagnosis.
Instead, Boothe returned to Lutz to help her mother.
“She had a rough time,” Boothe said. “It was hard for me to watch her go through that.” After Mullens recovered once again, Boothe got involved in Relay for Life. She also became heavily involved in the Land O’ Lakes Sun Rays Concert for a Cure.
And now friends are getting together to raise money for Boothe with the Kicking Cancer for Ashley fundraiser. The event takes place on Oct. 12 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Police Grounds, at the corner of Bell Lake Road and Land O’ Lakes Boulevard.
If anyone deserves help, it’s Boothe, Fontanez said.
“When she found out that I had a (Relay for Life) team, she baked her heart out,” Fontanez said. “She went ahead and she did seven or eight cakes. She did chocolate-covered strawberries, candies, cookies.”
In fact, Boothe made so many goodies that they were giving them away at the end of the event.
“She’s done baking every year. She’s been on our team for five years,” Fontanez said.
While Boothe is grateful for the help, she wishes she were on the giving, rather than the receiving, end.
“I want to be independent. I want to do it on my own,” she said. “This time, I just can’t. I don’t have the resources. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the energy.”
Boothe is humbled by the support that others are showing her.
The Fit Body Boot Camp is having a fundraising event for her with a two-week boot camp pass to its gym for a $33 donation. A personal trainer there also will match the money raised up to $3,000, and is giving away prizes to existing or new clients that participate in the fundraiser.
Firefighter Charities of Pasco Inc. and the fire chief are also helping.
“We are now allowed to wear pink duty shirts as we work,” said Jesus “J.J.” Martinez, president of the charitable organization. “The money we raise from the shirts will be going to Kicking Cancer for Ashley.”
Boothe said she is in awe by the kindness of others.
“So many people are so giving. All of these businesses that are willing to donate, I’m just very grateful,” she said.
She knows the road ahead will be challenging.
She must undergo additional chemotherapy treatments and surgeries. And, it’s too soon to tell if her newborn son, who has been receiving special care since his birth, will face future medical challenges because of his premature birth.
Despite the uncertainties, Boothe said she feels fortunate.
“People are still worse off than me,” she said. “They’re still dealing with worse things than I’m dealing with. As long as I have my family and my husband and my God, I don’t worry anymore.”