She's laid in my floor and cried from the crushing, overwhelming exhaustion that comes from trying to hold herself together -- the jobs, the family obligations, the fundraising, the health issues -- after hearing someone say over and over again: You're going to die anyway.
She turned over her driver's license and nearly had to say goodbye to our buddy J. She lives without telephone or Internet because every single extra dollar goes toward keeping herself alive. She is humble and grateful for what she has, and can usually find the humor in every situation.
She is the epitome of a fighter: fiercely independent, whip smart, persistent, and brave. And two days ago she got a phone call that brought her to her knees.
Just one day after finding out her insurer was bringing in an expert witness to prove that her lungs are dying so why bother with a new kidney, her team of [pro bono] lawyers found out The Powers That Be dropped their denial of her medical coverage.
My strong little sister -- my hero -- won. She took all the nastiness slung her way and she refused to give up on her right to live. She is now covered for the transplant.
Her donor is right this minute scheduling the final tests to be approved for the donation (which he couldn't do until the coverage was sorted out). She could have a sparkly new kidney ... by Christmas. [Best. Present. Ever.]
We are so incredibly blessed to have had so many people, both in our community and around the world, joining us in this fight. You sent prayers and money, you spoke out about the injustice of the insurance denial, you joined up your heart with our hearts and you fought with us and for us.
There aren't enough words to say how thankful we are, but know this: The battle may be over for Ashley, but she's just one person. There are so many others struggling under the weight of our broken health care system. You saved her. Yes, you (and you and especially you). Without this incredible force of spirit, who knows where we'd be right now.
You can't stop now. Find the Ashleys in your life and bring them to light, throw your (our) support behind those people (who feel incredibly alone, I can assure you), and continue using the power of the human spirit to prevail against those who put money first.
In the meantime, we have another $20,000 to raise. We've already moved the mountain; the rest is cake.
(And that feeling? The one you got when you found out? Oprah calls it joy rising. Now I understand why.)