CANDLER, N.C. (WLOS) — A Buncombe County family faces another health crisis, nearly three years after the death of their infant son.
Considering what happened then, parents Jim and Catherine Ashe said the anguish feels all too familiar.
This month, their five-year-old daughter Hazel was diagnosed with leukemia.
“It’s a little unreal this is happening again,” Jim said.
“It was hard to ask for help again,” said Catherine, a local veterinarian.
It was also hard putting Hazel’s battle into words, Catherine said, yet earlier in December she wrote a painfully eloquent description of the family crisis on their GoFundMe page.
“Hazel has leukemia,” she said, reading aloud. “My beautiful daughter, my dancer, my smiler, my warm-hearted, open, social, verbal Hazel-Basil. Her body is betraying her.”
“Hazel has leukemia,” she wrote. “I have said or typed those words a hundred times today, in a hundred texts and messages and phone calls, and still, when I hear or say them, a sob wants to burst out of my mouth. My teeth and lips are slippery with the effort of keeping those sobs in. My mind screams at the unreality.”
The page and heartbreaking plea for help has been shared almost three thousand times.
“You’re not supposed to need a GoFundMe. Not ever in your life,” she said earlier in the post. “Because GoFundMe’s are for life’s big, bad, scary moments. And we had that big, bad, scary moment. I was done with GoFundMe’s. I would never need one again.”
In 2017, their five month old son James Julian died of a genetic condition called Edwards Syndrome.
Now, the Ashes face yet another health scare.
“It’s really hard to see her like this,” Jim said of Hazel, who was recently released from the hospital. “She’s normally a very happy and shiny girl.”
“You kind of hope you’re done with bad news regarding your children,” Catherine said. “We were stunned.”
Hope for a fairy tale ending
“Rapunzel’s magical hair keeps Mother Gothel young,” Jim said, reading a book to his girls. “Her hair has magical powers.”
Gemma is a ham and could be a future performer, while Hazel seemed more like a director.
“Can you do a video of doing hair?” she asked as the News 13’s cameras were rolling.
“You are famous aren’t you?” her mom Catherine said, brushing Hazel’s hair.
At the time, she was readjusting to life at home, and what her parents pray is the road to recovery.
“First night home from the hospital,” Catherine told us.
Their daughter faces two to three years of chemotherapy ahead, but the Ashes are optimistic she’ll pull through.
Hazel showed remarkable grace in the hospital. She received toys as gifts, but gave them away to other patients on the pediatric floor.
“She’s very empathetic for a five year old,” Catherine says.
“That’s very like Hazel,” Jim added.
“Her mother was coming, we asked, ‘Do you want mommy to bring anything, you know a happy meal or something?,'” Jim recalled. “She says, ‘Can you bring a picture of James?’ So she had a picture of James with her in the hospital.”
They cling to the memory of little James.
The Ashes have endured so much in the past few years, fully aware life is nothing like a storybook.
Even so, they continue to savor the journey together.
“Soon Princess Rapunzel is reunited with the royal parents and living happily ever after,” Jim read. “The end.”
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