Jan 12, 2010 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
Helping and inspiring others became second-nature for Ashleigh Wainwright. And now, after she has passed away, she continues to do so.
Wainwright, 21, passed away Jan. 2 at Golisano’s Children Hospital, Syracuse after a 19-year battle with an aggressive form of cancer. She was a 2006 graduate of Chittenango High School and lived in Canastota.
At 18 months, Wainwright was diagnosed with juvenile fibromatosis, a rare disorder that causes tumors to grow in joints, muscles and other soft tissues. She was later diagnosed with familiar adenomatous polyposis, a rare cancer of the colon. Despite the odds against her, Wainwright continued to live as normal a life as possible: graduating high school, dancing in national competitions and attending Cazenovia College for fashion.
But after her death, it’s not the disease family and friends are remembering about her. Instead, it’s the life she lived and the life they love. Her parents, Traci and Bill, say Wainwright was an independent, beautiful young woman, who made it a point to help others and fight through the diseases stacked against her. “She always did everything, even though she was sick,” Traci, her mother, said.
Wainwright was an active dancer all through high school, as a competition dancer with Empire Dance and Gymnastics, Marcy, and the United Academy of the Performing Arts, Oneida.
“She would dance like there was nothing wrong,” said Traci. Wainwright danced for 12 years, still attending dance classes and competitions after rounds of radiation. She had a blood transfusion, and would dance in a competition the next day. Even if Wainwright was too sick to dance in her classes, she would always be there. Dance teachers taught two dances: one with Ashleigh participating, and the other without her.
She was honored at a national dance competition at the United States Tournament of Dance, which donated money to a cancer charity in honor of Wainwright.
In a number of her competitions and recitals, Wainwright appeared on stage bald from the chemotherapy. Her parents say she was comfortable with being bald.
“I’m not ashamed of myself or my body or the scars I have,” Wainwright said in a 2005 interview with Golisano’s Children Hospital for a book. “I am who I am — as God made me.”
Wainwright chose to not use the head piece that was purchased for her, instead donning her bare head at dances and her 2006 graduation from Chittenango High School, where she received a standing ovation as her name was called to receive her diploma.
After high school, she started at Cazenovia College for fashion design — something she loved. After only attending partial semesters due to sickness, Wainwright decided to work in retail.
“She would say, ‘If I can’t design it, I can sell it!’ And boy, she could sell clothes to a blind man,” Traci said.