Ainsley is the daughter of my cousin Jenny. Jenny is really my second cousin, but in my family we are close-knit. I grew up attending a big reunion every summer with all my second cousins and third cousins and thought of them all as first cousins. Tami, my dear, dear friend, is actually one of those second cousins as well. Jenny’s dad, Winn, was always one of my favorites – he would play with the young kids as if he were one of the gang.
Jenny and Bryan, are the parents of five children, Meili-10, Rhyan-9, Ava-7, Ainsley-5, and Hudson, born about 6 weeks before Ainsley’s diagnosis, is now 1.
Aren’t they the cutest thing ever?
I remember the first week of Ainsley’s diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and reading this post from Bryan, her daddy. It broke my heart that within a few short days their entire world had been turned upside down. Ainsley had just turned four years old and started having bruises appear on her legs. Jenny was concerned about another issue altogether – constipation – and was able to get her into the doctor just a few days later. Those bruises started spreading and her lymph glands swelled up. The next day, the doctor called and said he was fairly certain Ainsley had leukemia and needed to be admitted to the Children’s Hospital that very day. By the end of that week, Ainsley underwent surgery, had a chemo port put in, and started on the 2 1/2 year chemotherapy regimen. Can you even imagine your world changing that much from Tuesday to Friday? Add in a 6 week old to boot and a dad in medical residency and you’ve got the makings of one rough ride.
But the Smedleys have stuck together. They have learned to love and serve and sacrifice for one another in beautiful, heartbreaking ways. Last Mother’s Day, Jenny shaved her head when Ainsley’s beautiful red locks fell out in clumps.
They have sold Ainsley’s Army bracelets, made sure to laugh as much as possible, and have nurtured their faith in God’s miracles.
Since that fateful week in February 2013, Ainsley has been fighting with all she’s got. She is sassy, determined, and has more oomph than I can imagine. She has hollered at nurses one minute and thanked them the next. She is full of love and spice and just the right blend of humor. The Smedleys have a favorite phrase, “Cancer picked the wrong girl!” and Ainsley likes to finish it by saying “I’m gonna kick its butt!”
Cancer has changed their family forever, as it does everyone who faces it. The three girls have had to grow up quickly, baby Hudson has had a far different babyhood than his four older siblings – he’s been well-loved, but has had to get used to lots of different situations and helpers, and everyone has had to learn to survive on much less sleep. They have dealt with endless doctor’s appointments, puking children, lumbar punctures, steroid rage, five little children needing more time and attention than is humanly possible to provide when one of them has cancer, and so much more. They have also been surrounded with supportive family and friends who have walked this journey with them.
Bryan is often the one who writes the blog updates on Ainsley’s condition and I have come to love him through his words of pain, heartache, faith, and hope. Here is one of his posts and here is another one that show you the caliber of man he is.
I love this picture of Jenny and Ainsley! They both have some spunk!
Living in the land of make-believe and dress-ups are some of Ainsley’s favorite things.
Look at all that hair growing back in!
I haven’t seen Jenny for years, but I have always loved her parents and siblings and now, through the sharing of their journey through cancer, I have fallen head over heels in love with her husband, children, and especially Ainsley. My little Annesley is just one year older, has nearly the same name, and has the same zest for living, passionate emotions, and courage that Ainsley is kickin’ cancer with. I often hold my Annes a little closer and snuggle her a little longer because of what her cousin Ainsley is going through.
Let’s all chip in our $4.00 to help them with the medical bills that are piling up! If we each do a little and spread the word to help others do a little, we can make a big difference in their lives! Click here or go to youcaring.com/fourbucks to give Ainsley four bucks today.read more