oct. 27 ashley

October 26, 2000

The Ashley Foundation

By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

If you go

Dance to benefit The Ashley Foundation featuring Jr. Cline and the Recliners playing rock and R&B from the '60s and '70s

When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Where: The Silo Factory

257 E. 6th St., Frederick, Md.

Tickets: $35 donation; Businesses can sponsor a table for an additional donation of $50. There will be a cash bar.

Information: 1-301-865-0380

Ashley Elizabeth Tamburri was 16 when she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor. She died nine months later in June 1999.


She wanted her mother, Darlene Armacost, to be truthful about her chances for recovery. She asked if it was like having AIDS and if she would die. Armacost, a hospice nurse, believed that her daughter had a right to understand. She was honest and believes that Ashley wished she hadn't asked, but at the same time, was glad she did.


"I think she that she knew that time was short, but she lived planning for tomorrow," Armacost.

Part of that tomorrow is The Ashley Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teenagers, their families, friends and communities, cope with cancer. In January, the foundation will begin to offer services which will include two annual scholarships for high school seniors who have histories of cancer, financial assistance for counseling services and community education and outreach. Teens and their families in five Maryland counties - Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Washington - can benefit. Services are supported through donations and fund-raisers, such a dance planned Saturday, Nov. 4 in Frederick, Md.

A diagnosis of cancer is not easy for anyone. The challenges of being a teen with cancer are unique, according to Armacost. "They need their peers," she says.

Ashley was fortunate to have teachers and a guidance counselor at Linganore High School who helped keep her friends connected and helped them to cope with having a 16-year-old friend with cancer. "We can help other schools," Armacost says.

Ashley documented her experience as a teen faced with a life-threatening illness in two videos, sharing her thoughts, feelings and needs. She told her mother she wanted to be cremated. She did not want to be kept alive with artificial feedings or a respirator.

Yet despite her realism, Ashley had some hope up until the night before she died, Armacost says. She had changed during the course of her illness, staying in bed, losing her sight and hearing. With help, she was able to use a walker until that night, when she could no longer use her hands.

"I think she was ready to let go," Armacost says.

In a way, she never let go. Through The Ashley Foundation, Ashley holds on.

"We're not doing rocket science here, just making the experience a little more bearable," Armacost says.

For information about the foundation, its scholarships and services, call 1-301-865-0380 or go to on the Web.

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