Ashley Coplin – ‘Cancer made me stronger’

Published 3:20 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2023

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Ashley Coplin is a well-known face around Demopolis. She is an involved member of her community, an active Rotarian, and a loving wife and mother. But perhaps most importantly, she is a breast cancer survivor.

Coplin received her cancer diagnosis in September 2021. She found the spot herself, and immediately went to her primary doctor and then went to Whitfield Regional Hospital where she had her first mammogram test at age 36.

“The doctors said they saw something suspicious, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. I didn’t know that was not going to be good,” said Coplin. “After that, I did an ultrasound and a biopsy, and then that’s when we found it. By the time I got ready to do my procedures, the cancer was at stage two.”

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Coplin said it was difficult for her to process her diagnosis at first because she suddenly had a thousand things to think about.

“My thoughts were more of. ‘I have two small kids, so what does that mean for them? What does that outlook look like for me with having cancer?’” she said. “Those were my initial thoughts and once I got over that, I just said you know what, that’s kind of what it is. We’re going to take care of everything I can to make sure I do what I need to get better.”

For Coplin, her support system was the biggest help to her during her treatment process.

“I was very fortunate to have both my parents and my in-laws here,” Coplin said. “My husband actually shaved his head when I shaved my head after I started losing my hair. I also had friends and my church family whose support was huge and is still huge and supportive. I can’t say enough for my friends and family for all their support.”

Her faith was also an important part in keeping her spirits up during her many treatment sessions.

“Faith was really important because I’m very much an A-type personality, so I’m a planner and then when you get diagnosed with cancer, you don’t really have time for your plans at that point,” said Coplin. “I just had to be okay with not being okay. And I knew that God was there to help me take care of it. And I just had to be patient. It was not my timing. It was going to be on His timing and I had to learn to be okay with that.”

After dealing with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Coplin took her last radiation treatment on her 37th birthday. The milestone was marked by ringing the cancer survivor bell with her youngest son at Whitfield Regional Hospital in 2022.

“It was an extra special birthday. It was almost surreal because I had spent a whole year either doing chemo, surgery, radiation or something and I told myself that I would not ring that bell until all of it was done,” said Coplin. “I actually didn’t ring the bell, my two-year-old rang the bell for me. I wanted him involved in that. It’s one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Just over a year later has passed since Coplin’s battle with breast cancer and she has moved on to become the Director of Patient Experience and Foundation Operations at Whitfield Regional Hospital. Photo by Andrea Burroughs.

Now just over a year later, Coplin has moved on to become the Director of Patient Experience and Foundation Operations at Whitfield Regional Hospital. Coplin believes her experience with breast cancer has made her a stronger and a better person.

“I think it’s made me stronger, and I think it’s made me a better person. What I mean by that is, I don’t take things for granted as much anymore,” said Coplin. “I see things differently. I feel like I really didn’t start living until after that diagnosis and realized what was important. So I am a better and stronger person because of it.”

Coplin’s advice to other women experiencing breast cancer is to find a trusted person to talk to about their situation. She also said to be okay with not being okay.

“I think, as women, we tend to want to be strong for everybody and it’s okay not to be fine. You can rely on your faith as well as I think that’s important,” said Coplin. “Just know that there’s better days ahead and you’re going to get through it. You’re going to be stronger for it. Just talk about it. It’s okay.”