JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Ashley Tinsley Montgomery was just off camera as details were shared about a fundraiser featuring Dove award-winning Southern country gospel Jeff and Sheri Easter. Having just underwent a chemotherapy treatment Thursday, she wasn't up for being in front of the camera on Mid-Day.
But, she told me, "I just wish every woman knew the warning signs." I looked directly at her for more clarity. Wearing a hat to hide missing hair, Ashley said, "I didn't have much warning at all; except for a urinary tract infection."
Some of the warning signs of ovarian cancer are considered to be abdominal bloating or swelling, quickly feeling full when eating, weight loss, discomfort in the pelvic area, changes in bowel habits, frequent need to urinate.
This is the second time Montgomery has battled ovarian cancer. The first came in 2008. That's when she first started having problems. Ashley pointed to her side and said she felt a knot the size of an orange. The mass was sent to Stanford University and it was determined to be cancerous. Back then, Montgomery did 4 rounds of chemotherapy.
"If I had waited 3 months," Ashley said, "I would have died." She thought she had beaten the cancer.
But this past May, doctors found a large mass in the lining of her uterus, attached to her female organs and colon. The wife and mother of 2 was sent straight to Memphis for a CT scan. Montgomery has been told she has ovarian sarcoma. The diagnosis came 7 years after the first.
"The second diagnosis had probably only been there 2 months and was Stage 4. Both cancers are rare. We just need more awareness, so women know what to look for." The last mass was removed in July.
"I had just went to the doctor in October and had a normal pap smear, ultrasound with a cyst that was normal and a cancer screening test that was within range. This is why females have to listen to their body," Montgomery said.
"She is still very active with her 2 girls," Joyce Files said. "She tries to make as many events as she can when she feels like it and trying to be a mom." Files is a relative and organizer of the benefit concert happening at the Valley View Fine Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 28.
"Jeff and Sherri Easter have been on various TV shows. They're a little touch of country, a little touch of bluegrass," Belinda Chapman said. "Jeff's dad was one of the original Easter brothers. Sheri's mother is Polly from the Lewis family. They just have a great sound with their 21-year-old daughter now."
A silent auction and donations at the door will go directly to her medical fund. There's an account set up at Bear State Bank.
Montgomery, along with her daughters,14-year-old Makayla, 9-year-old Addison and her husband, Drew, plan on attending the benefit concert.
As Ashley left the KAIT studios, she smiled, gave me a hug, and again reminded me to tell all women to make an appointment to see their doctor. "Ovarian cancer whispers. It doesn't shout."
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