A YOUNG mum given just 18 months to live is appealing for help to fulfil her dying wish of getting married.
Ashlee Meecham, aged 29, has breast cancer which has spread to her bones, leading to tumours in her shoulder, arm, spine, pelvis, leg, liver and lungs.
Three weeks ago, doctors told her the cancer was terminal.
She hopes to squeeze as much as possible into the last months of her life and build lasting memories for her three-year-old daughter, Miley.
And top of the list is marrying her long-term boyfriend, Neil Disley, aged 29.
Ashlee, who grew up in Radcliffe and attended Gorsefield Primary School and Philips High School, said: “The only things I wanted to do in my life were be a mum and get married.
“I want to have the same surname as my daughter.
“I have been with my boyfriend since I was 13 and it will seal the deal for me. He’s always been the love of my life.”
Ashlee, Neil and Miley will travel to Paris tomorrow so the couple can officially get engaged.
They plan to get married at Stanley House in Preston on Sunday, May 12, and paid their deposit last Saturday.
But the couple are seeking help to cover the cost of the wedding and are looking for everything from a professional photographer to napkins.
And Ashlee is struggling to get a dress in time for her big day, as she has been told by several wedding shops that it would take six months to make her dress.
Ashlee, who will shortly leave her part-time admin job at the Manchester Arndale centre, said: “I’m only 29 and I haven’t saved for a rainy day. We had talked about getting married for years.
“We’re looking for donations, people who could make a wedding dress in time and help with everything else.”
Ashlee was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, 2010, just six months after giving birth to Miley.
She had a lump in her breast which she believed was a blocked milk duct, but decided to get it checked by a doctor after a friend died of breast cancer.
It is thought the hormones during pregnancy fed the cancer and helped the tumours develop.
She had a mastectomy and was treated for the disease, finishing treatment eight months ago.
Ashlee had two mammograms afterwards to check the health of her breasts, but scans were not done on the rest of her body.
When she had a sore back, arm and leg, she returned to the hospital last month for scans and was told that she had up to 18 months to live.
“It was a complete shock. I honestly thought I had a trapped nerve, but I wanted to get it checked out,” said Ashlee, who now lives in Hereford Crescent, Little Lever. Ashlee is taking morphine tablets and will have chemotherapy tablets, herceptin and other medication, but they will not stop the cancer.
She hopes to survive for her 30th birthday in April and to see her daughter start school in September.
She would also like to go on a family holiday and do a tandem skydive.
Ashlee hopes to have lots of photographs and videos to record the last months of her life and has started a memory box for Miley.
She said: “I want to build memories for my daughter. I’m scared that she will forget me. I want to cram as many different things in.
“I’m so sad. I’m more sad for my daughter. My little girl is everything to me. I know she will have a nice life without me, but no one will love her like me.”
Ashlee has bought cards for her daughter’s birthdays for years to come and other occasions such as exams, driving test and moving house.
She is teaching Neil how to do Miley’s hair and telling him what she would like for their daughter’s future.
She is also organising her funeral, has looked at coffins and is making a playlist of songs she would like.
Ashlee added: “In a way I wish I didn’t know, but at least I have the chance to say what I need to and do what I have to before I die. I’ve been trying to take pressure off Neil by organising things.”
And Ashlee hopes that speaking about her illness and prognosis will encourage other people to go to a doctor if they find a lump.
“I would urge other people to get themselves checked if they are worried about a lump. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I’m going through,” she said.
Anyone able to help with Ashlee and Neil’s wedding can contact them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org