Pregnancy leads to a lifesaving discovery for Kentucky woman

Amber Philpott

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WKYT) -- A Kentucky woman's dream of becoming a mother may have saved her life. Many women tend to think about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy, but cancer isn't usually a concern.

Ryan and Ashley Grills are preparing to welcome their first child, a baby girl. The newlyweds, married in July, knew that becoming parents was something they wanted to do right away.

"I'm so excited; being a mother was a top thing I wanted to do," said Ashley Grills.

It didn't take long to get pregnant. In late August the Georgetown couple found out they were expecting.

"I was so excited. I was definitely excited," said Ryan Grills.

"I took a pregnancy test two weeks in a row just to make sure," said Ashley Grills.

"She probably took about ten pregnancy tests total just to make sure," said Ryan.

Visits to the doctor for Ashley have been routine lately, even though her pregnancy has been anything but routine from the beginning.

Just weeks in, Ashley who is small in stature, noticed her belly seemed to be larger than it should be. "I looked like I was probably four or five months and I wasn't. I was fresh pregnant," said Ashley.

That's when the couple's first ultrasound revealed something very startling. Ashley says she will never forget hearing what the ultrasound tech told her.

"She said 'I know this is supposed to be a happy time, but I thought it was something with the baby,'" said Ashley.

It wasn't. It was Ashley. Doctors found a very large mass. It would need removing. At 14 weeks prior to surgery, Ashley was already so large she looked like she could give birth at any minute.

"In Ashley's case she had a mass that was about a basketball size. It was very large. She had never realized anything was there. That is not uncommon when masses are large in pregnancy," said Dr. Hope Cottrill, Gynecological Oncologist with Baptist Health Lexington.

After surgery, Ashley looked the way she should for a pregnancy at her stage. The difference was remarkable. Ashley had a cyst with five and half liters of fluid and a tumor removed, but the news got worse. She was diagnosed with an early stage of ovarian cancer.

Now at 30 weeks, Ashley is fighting cancer. She is undergoing chemo, with two treatments left to go. Despite hard days she has never once let it get her down. She is fighting for two now.

"You might have cancer, but it's not all of you, it's just a small part, a little chapter in your book; you are going to flip it and be done with it," said Ashley. "This isn't even half of them, it's just a few."

Ashley and Ryan credit their faith and an outpouring of support from their family and friends.

"I just get cards all the time."

There is no test to catch ovarian cancer early. Ashley admits she dismissed many of the warning signs. For most women diagnosed it's too late, but not Ashley. The arrival of Caroline Mae will be special, but little does this unborn baby know just how truly thankful her parents really are.

"We just feel really blessed for her to get pregnant this early because they would have never found the cancer if she hadn't gotten pregnant," said Ryan. "So it was really a blessing from God that his happened."

Ovarian cancer can be a silent killer. In fact, for most women diagnosed it has already progressed to a later stage. Looking back Ashley says she had all the warning signs, including feeling bloated, being full after eating just a few bites and stomach pain. Ashley says listening to your body is key. Little Caroline Mae is due in May.

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