Don't let Alicia Ashmore's size fool you. While she has a short stature and small build, Alicia is actually a junior at Augusta Christian Schools and she'll gladly take her small size for the alternative.
"I look like a third-grader," Alicia said. "Everyone else in the world looks bigger than me."
The story of Alicia, now a 17-year-old high school student, begins when she was 9 years old. On her birthday that year, her parents sat her down and broke the news to their daughter: a brain tumor was the cause of her constant headaches and body pains. Alicia would soon undergo radiation treatment, making the twice-a-day trip for nine months. She also endured chemotherapy and today celebrates five years of being cancer-free.
"When they told me, I said, 'OK. What does that mean? What is it?'" said Alicia, the daughter of Jerry and Christia Ashmore, of Martinez. "I was scared, but I knew the Lord was going to take care of me. We just take it one day at a time."
Today Alicia still takes life one day at a time, learning to deal with the paralysis she has on the left side of her body, which makes it difficult to write or type. She also has difficulty with memorization skills.
"I think I'm treated pretty much like anybody else," said Alicia, an artist who is a member of the school's art club. "For me, taking notes is a big deal because I can't concentrate on both what the teacher is saying and taking notes, so I often borrow other people's notes."
"The first year I started teaching at Augusta Christian was the year Alicia was so sick," said art teacher Marynell Parker.
"I only remember seeing a snapshot of her on the door of her homeroom class. It was a picture of a tiny girl sitting up in a hospital bed with her head wrapped in bandages. She was smiling courageously. A note underneath said, 'Please pray for Alicia.' We did pray and thankfully she survived," Parker said.
"This year, she transferred into my art class. She has a big smile and a good sense of humor and a love for art. She has handicaps, but she does not complain. I am blessed to have her in my class."
Alicia Ashmore, a junior at Augusta Christian, says the many prayers said for her helped her overcome a brain tumor through chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Alicia will likely grow up to be an artist, just like her mother, who majored in art in college. She's uncertain if she will go to college, but said she'll probably have to go into a special program if she does.
"She is inspirational because she puts forth maximum effort and Alicia does her best," said Cheryl Dryzga, the school's guidance counselor. "Her English teacher, Becky Reynolds, says that when Alicia puts her mind to it, she can accomplish anything. Alicia also inspires with a positive outlook."
It is that positive outlook that has helped Alicia endure. She said the prayers said for her during those trying times when she was undergoing treatment for cancer were what pulled her through.
"I'm not supposed to grow any more," she said of her stature. "I've tried growth hormones and it took forever for me to grow an inch. When we go to a restaurant and we get seated, I'm always given a kid's menu, but I don't mind. I'm very blessed because the Lord has saved me from that. I don't have a problem with being small."
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