Gunsaulis Family


Our story is like most others. You never think it can happen to “your” child. Ashlynn had just turned 4 years old and was complaining that her back was hurting. It had been hot for a few days and she fell asleep on the hardwood floor with her dog, so I figured that’s why it was hurting. She started waking up at night crying from the pain. It was a Saturday morning and I took her to urgent care that was open, just for peace of mind. That Dr told me I was “overreacting” and it was just simply muscle spasms and to comback in a few days if there was no improvement and by a few days, he meant “nottomorrow”. I had a very uneasy feeling and did not like his bedside manner at all. I knew I was going to seem like a crazy mom, but I immediately went to another urgent care. There we saw Dr. Scott Jonason who was kind, caring and who was willing to take an x-ray and order an ultrasound. My world stopped when he walked into the room, sat on the rolling stool and took a deep breath, and told me my daughter had a large mass on her lower spine. July 10th, 2015 we were told our daughter has lymphoma cancer. She had 5 tumors. Three down her spine and one in each kidney, the lower mass twisted her spine so bad, we were told they were amazed it didn’t paralyze her.

We found out about Candlelighters in the hospital. It was so helpful to have a cabinet full of food and snacks. The family dinners were such a nice break from the hospital food! All of it was such a relief especially when you’re stuck in isolation. We felt like we were not walking alone, Candlelighters was always right by our side. Ashlynn’s absolute favorite thing about Candlelighters is family camp. We all look forward to this every year. All the families you meet, the connection you see your kids have with other kids. They are all “normal” it doesn’t matter if you’re bald, in a wheelchair or have tubes everywhere. All you see are kids smiling, it’s the best feeling ever. If you see Ashlynn with her little friend Heaven, then you see true love and friendship.

Ashlynn is now 8 years old. You would never know she had cancer if you didn’t know her story. She is kind, caring and loves to help others. She is our 5th child out of 6. She loves her older siblings, Danielle 26, Tyler 22, Ryan 21, Ethan 15 and has a love/hate best friend relationship with her crazy little sister Kylie who is 7 (pictured left and above). She loves music! She wants to play the guitar and will be starting lessons soon! We cannot wait to see this girl take on the world. She will do amazing things and we’re sure it’ll be something with helping others.

I don’t wish this on anyone, but the family support we received from Candlelighters and the forever friendships we have made we will forever be grateful for and we now know this was our journey we had to take and we’re hoping we can help another family in any way.

-Trisha Gansualius

Volunteer Spotlight

Central Oregon Chair, Kimberly Banner

"I first learned about Candlelighters in 2014, when my daughter was diagnosed with AML at the age of 10. We stayed at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital throughout her treatment and met some of the Candlelighters staff when they served dinner or stocked the food pantry....