Coaching instincts kick in for the win

Ashley Gorney selected as Chiefs Coin Toss Captain

Ashley GorneyWhether it’s a volleyball game or chemotherapy, Ashley Gorney meets every challenge with optimism and determination.

That gives her an advantage in her fight against breast cancer, according to her care team at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. It also earned her the honor of serving as the Coca Cola Coin Toss Captain at the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday, October 23.

A mother of two, Spanish teacher and volleyball coach at Gardner Edgerton High School, Ashley discovered her cancer through a self-exam she performed during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2015.

A born competitor

At one of her volleyball games, the gym was decorated in pink and the announcer shared cancer statistics throughout the evening. Having recently finished breastfeeding her son, Ashley realized it had been a while since she performed a self-exam. Doing so, she said, saved her life.

“Nobody knows your body the way you do, so you can tell right away if something’s not right,” Ashley said. When doctors confirmed the lump she felt was cancer, her coaching instincts took over.

“I’m a competitive person, so I saw cancer as another adversary. I don’t like to lose, and I said I wasn’t going to lose this battle,” she recalled. She continued to work full time while undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Ashley also enrolled in a clinical trial with encouragement from her husband, Jerad, who teaches science at the same high school. Both believe in helping advance medical science, which is what drew Ashley to the The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Infectious optimism

Ashley Gorney and familyA team of breast pathologists, radiologists and breast-only chemotherapy specialists created a customized treatment plan to give Ashley the best chance for a cure while reducing long-term complications. Melissa Mitchell, MD, radiation oncologist, describes Ashley as a role model.

“Often, our breast cancer patients are understandably angry and frustrated by this life-changing diagnosis. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ashley down. She always comes in with an infectious smile that brightens the day of everyone she comes into contact with,” said Dr. Mitchell. That includes the multidisciplinary team of breast specialists who helped provide the support system Ashley needed.

“As soon as I started treatment, I knew they were covering every base for me. There wasn’t a question they couldn’t answer, and all of my doctors were on the same page,” Ashley said, referring to the benefit of receiving all of her care at one location. 

A lifelong Chiefs fan who grew up in Great Bend Kansas, Ashley is thrilled to be Coin Toss Captain, and will undoubtedly bring her unique brand of positive energy to the field.

“Ashley has been an inspiration to me and all of my staff in radiation oncology,” Dr. Mitchell said. “She’s one of the bravest patients we have ever had, who lives every day to the fullest.”

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