Ashley Boynes-Shuck is hoping she can use her fight against several chronic diseases to help others in need.
Boynes-Shuck has been nominated as one of this area’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Woman of the Year" candidates, and she hopes to use that platform to raise money for cancer research. Overall, six men, six women and three teenagers are vying to raise enough money to proceed onto the national stage.
“It’s a diverse group of people, but everyone nominated has a pretty impressive background,” Boynes-Shuck said. “It’s an honor to be selected just to be a nominee.”
Boynes-Shuck, who grew up in South Fayette and now lives in Green Tree, knows all about suffering from chronic illnesses after undergoing multiple surgeries and treatments through the years. She has been dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and Arnold-Chiari malformation for most of her life.
“Needless to say, I’ve been through quite a lot on the health front,” she said. “I’ve pretty much devoted my entire adult life to advocacy work.”
She’s using her extensive social media platform, which includes Facebook, Twitter and her blogs, to raise awareness about her experiences and initiatives. Although she’s still planning many fundraising events, Boynes-Shuck hopes to hold a beauty night, salon and spa fundraisers; a “Dog Party” at Camp Bow Wow; and wine tastings.
“I wanted to do something to help the millions of people who live with chronic illnesses,” she said.
That includes working to raise awareness in memory of her brother’s college friend, Curt Valent, who died in January 2011 of Ewing Sarcoma cancer at age 23. Curt grew up in the area and went to before graduating from Bishop Canevin.
“He was fine, and in just a few years he declined,” she said. “I’m trying to keep his memory alive.”
Boynes-Shuck said many of the treatments researching are testing have crossover with many types of illnesses. She’s hoping the money she and others raise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will also help people who have similar diseases.
“It’s really rewarding and really nice to get my mind off my problems and focus on helping people,” she said. “It hits a little close to home.”
If you would like to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and donate to one of the candidates, go to the Western Pennsylvania Chapter’s website.