Wake County student spreads message of hope and survival

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

A Wake County student and cancer survivor is taking her message of hope straight to Congress.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Ashley Burnette will meet with members of Congress Friday to advocate for pediatric cancer research.

Burnette, now 11, was about to start second grade when her family received devastating news.

"I got diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, and I was very scared at first," said Burnette.

Instead of going to school, Burnette met with countless doctors across the country, undergoing multiple surgeries to rid the cancer from her body that develops from immature nerve cells.

In the process she developed a second cancer, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Burnette spent more than 150 nights in a hospital room.

Through it all she managed to keep her humor, creating a spy video with her mom when the battle got tough.

"I never really liked to have a dull moment in the hospital," said Burnette. "I knew I was going to stay there for a long time so why not make it happy?"

Then came a turning point - body scans showed the cancer was gone.

"We all started screaming and crying," said Burnette. "It was just an amazing moment."

Burnette is now a national youth ambassador for Hyundai Hope On Wheels, a non-profit organization that raises money for childhood cancer awareness. Since 1998, the group has provided over $87 million in life-saving grants.

"I just thought I would love to do this because it's finding a cure," said Burnette.

She recently shared her story on one of the country's biggest stages, delivering a speech in Times Square.

Her efforts went viral when ABC News named her Person of the Week.

Even in the national spotlight Burnette wants to shine it where she says it belongs - on sick children in the fight of their lives.

"You just need to believe in yourself and you can get through it," said Burnette. "I mean, it's just that easy."

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Report a Typo