Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A tribute to Ashley Trenner (1972-2013)

Ashley Trenner celebrating her 40th birthday.

Blogging about melanoma and raising awareness for skin cancer in my community has its perks. I've met some of the most inspiring people I know, and most recently, I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Oregon State legislature. But there's a downside to raising awareness about a disease that kills 1 in 8 people who receive its diagnosis: melanoma kills people I care about.

After testifying in Salem, I heard about Ashley Trenner on the local news. Ashley was a stage IV melanoma patient whose final wish was to inform people about the dangers of UV exposure. I was touched by Ashley's story. I could totally relate--I used to love tanning beds, too, until I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2010. I reached out to her mother, Karen, to ask permission to share Ashley's story at the Portland Melanoma Walk this May.

Ashley at hospice. Melanoma is so much more
than just skin cancer.

I was deeply saddened when I learned about Ashley's passing on Friday, March 15. While I never had the opportunity to meet Ashley personally, my heart goes out to all her friends and family.

I encourage you to read and share Ashley's warning about melanoma, which is posted on her friend Tracie's blog. Here's a quick excerpt:

"I want to help people to be knowledgeable about Melanoma. It’s a cancer that’s not taken seriously. The majority of people say, 'Oh, it's just skin cancer, your lucky.' If not detected early skin cancer is deadly. It’s so important to get regular skin checkups by a dermatologist. Also don’t procrastinate if you see something suspicious. I didn't listen when I was warned about the dangers of tanning beds and not using sunscreen. I can't take back my poor decisions but I HOPE to help others make better decisions about not using tanning beds."

Read more.


  1. Another beautiful young woman falls victim to this awful beast.
    My heart aches for her family and friends.

    A poignant tribute Katie.

    So so sad.

  2. This gave me goosebumps. May she RIP. :(

  3. I just learned about her on the local news tonight and found your blog. My husband is a melanoma survivor, and I am obviously passionate about educating the public. Being new to the Pacific Northwest, I am shocked at how many tanning booths there are up here, and how many women look "over baked." Thank you for creating this blog and keeping the conversation open!

  4. hello, I knew Ashley very well I am Tracie's daughter and we went ice skating with her and I just want to inform you when I was around her there was never any show of pain. she was so sweet , funny , bubbly, happy, adorable, and she just had this personality that lite up a room. I was very close with her I told her about everything. I just like to remember her like that because I don't like thinking of her as in pain. the great thing is was her wish came true the second she met me she knew anyone who saw this is never going to use a tanning bed. I know she watches over me and everyone else and I feel safe. I just wish that cancer got cancer and died!

  5. Oh I am so sad to hear of her passing! I too am a melanoma survivor and would like to walk in her honor at the Miles for Melanoma 5K at Universal Studios on May 4th. I would love to be able to contact her family if you have any information you could share!

  6. I am never tanning again rip beautiful girl

  7. I am never tanning again rip beautiful girl