Ashley Boudreau, a physical therapy assistant for Presence St. Mary’s Hospital Outpatient Therapy, has quite an extensive collection of scarves, but they definitely mean more to her than just a fashion statement. Once used to hide a scar, they are now used to help raise awareness.
Growing up in Bourbonnais, Ashley first became interested in physical therapy when she was working at a local deli and a chiropractor came in and offered her a job. She began working at the clinic and decided that physical therapy was a path that she wished to pursue. KCC began offering their PTA program in 2009 and Ashley was a graduate of the first class.
Ashley began working at PSMH in 2011 and instantly fell in love with her profession. “You’re not just treating the patient or condition – You’re treating the whole person. You spend 30-60 minutes with a person several times a week and that really allows you to bond with your patient.”
In September 2012, Ashley went in for her annual checkup. Upon examination, her doctor became a little concerned with a lump on her throat so she sent her for some additional lab work. An ultrasound of her neck revealed cancerous nodules. On Halloween, Ashley went in for surgery to have her thyroid removed and of the 8 lymph nodes that they removed, three were cancerous.
Ashley was put on a very strict, low-iodine diet and had to do radiation treatments via pill. “I was isolated for a week because I was basically radioactive. I thankfully was able to come out of isolation right before Christmas, but the whole process was definitely depressing – especially during the holiday season.”
While in remission from the cancer, Ashley says she will never be considered “cancer free.” “I never thought I would get cancer at 23,” she explained. “I never felt sick. I never felt anything. It really goes to show how important it is to get a thorough yearly exam.”
Through all of her trials in 2012, she says her St. Mary’s family could not have been more supportive, both in PT and the hospital. “St. Mary’s really worked with me to get me in for appointments in a timely manner and my department went above and beyond, always working with my schedule and making me care packages. Everyone was amazing.”
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month and to honor Ashley and help raise awareness, the Outpatient Physical Therapy department has a month full of activities planned. They will be giving away weekly raffle prizes and posting pictures of their #scarfies throughout the month on social media, so please join us as we help bring attention to a very scary, but very treatable disease.
This is Ashley. Ashley is Presence St. Mary's Hospital. #IamPSMH