Ashleigh Hunt’s treatment for a rare bone cancer began in September, and she’s not out of the woods yet.
As the expenses of chemotherapy and surgeries have built, friends and the community have come to Hunt and her families aid. Susie Bibler, an organizer of two fundraisers to help defray the costs of Hunt’s treatments, hopes the community will support of the family once again.
Bibler and another friend of the family, Kim Yates, have organized a spaghetti dinner March 21 and a 5K run/walk March 22. Bibler said no monetary goal was set for the fundraisers because the goal “is to concentrate on Ashleigh.”
As Bibler and Yates, along with Hunt’s mother, Jodi Rupp, organize the fundraisers, the group called Prayers for Ashleigh is seeking sponsors for the 5K to help with the costs of water, bananas and other items for runners at the race.
Delaware Christian Church, 2280 W. William St., will host the spaghetti dinner 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 21 with a suggested donation of $5 per dinner.
The Delaware YMCA, 1121 S. Houk Road, will host the 5K the following morning. Participants can register at www.premierraces.com/viewevent.asp?eventID=999 for a timed 5k ($27), an un-timed 5K ($25) or for a “sleep-in” virtual race ($25). Racers are asked to register at the race between 8 and 9 a.m.
Bibler said the response to the fundraisers has already been positive, and three sponsors have already stepped forward.
“That’s really encouraging,” she said.
The journey through metastatic osteosarcoma, a rare cancer that only shows up in about 450 cases a year among children and teens in the United States, began with bone pain in May for Hunt, a 20-year-old Ohio State University student and Delaware Hayes High School graduate. She’d had tendinitis in her right knee, and when she started having some pain in her left knee, she thought it was just that. Eventually, the pain worsened and she couldn’t bend or straighten her left knee. In July, X-rays led to MRIs which led to a diagnosis of osteosarcoma on Aug. 18.
A lung biopsy followed, and the stage four cancer was also in her lungs. On Sept. 7, Hunt began chemotherapy, which has continued with intermittent surgeries on her leg and a possible surgery on her lungs.
Hunt’s father and stepmother, Ron and Deon McCrory, live in Alabama with two of her brothers, Alex and Dawson, and her brothers, Mason and Max, live with her and her mom and stepfather, Mark Rupp, in Delaware. Friends in her childhood home of Northwest Ohio and in her teenage home of Delaware have supported her and heeded her request not to treat her any differently than they would if she didn’t have cancer.
Hunt’s mother, said her daughter is pulling through.
“Her body’s starting to get tired and she’s not bouncing back as quickly as she used to,” she said. But “she’s doing it. She’s making it through.”
The family is now waiting to hear about a second opinion on whether to move forward with a surgery on Hunt’s lung.
Though it’s the most common type of primary bone cancer – meaning it originates in the bone and may not have a known cause – it’s still a rare disease occurring mainly in teenagers and young adults in their 20s.
For most patients, it begins with pain in the long bones such as the femur. The pain is progressive and disruptive. A quarter of patients will have metastasis to other sites in the body, and the survival rate at five years for those who have metastatic osteosarcoma is about 35 percent, according to a Nationwide Children’s Hospital.