Inquire about limited availability for 

learn more about limited availability for 


Just Think of Me: A humble request this week

March 9, 2020

I’m writing this blog at 12:30 in the morning. That should give you some insight into just how I am feeling.

Old friends will know this, but new friends may not: I am not a night person. Unless I’m at a wedding, I’m not one stay up past 9 most nights. But the last few days, my mind has been so absolutely chaotic and frantic that as a result – not getting much sleep.

So here I am … laying in bed, listening to Deep Sleep on Spotify as Randy is snoozing away, and I’m blogging from my phone on the WordPress app.

People keep asking how I’m doing after my cancer diagnosis, and at first I lied and said I was fine. I wasn’t necessarily lying to those who asked, but, more so lying to myself. And then I found myself getting less and less okay with the lie, because damn it – I am not fine. I am so far from fine that 90% of the time I am in this constant battle to not throw up all over the place.

Not only do I have to worry about having cancer and surgery and radiation and the fall out of all these things. I am going to be super raw here: I am sick to my stomach about what it’s going to cost. Not just monetarily, but for my business. For my family. For the short term, and the long run.

Ugly insider backstory: We have been Dave Ramsey people for a long time now. For the better part of our 30s, we have been working hard to snowball our “large family on lower enlisted military pay” debt from our 20s. I’m proud of us – we have paid off so much and have really done a great job of not digging financial holes to fall into anymore.

But every once in a while, we accidentally step into a hole that takes us a while to get out of. For example: my 2015 emergency surgery for my gallbladder. Our insurance picked up the bulk of our well-over $100,000 bill – but we were still responsible for an ugly percentage. It took us over two years to pay it off. I shot two weddings within 10 days of my surgery because I couldn’t afford to refund the couples nor could I afford to let them down from a business reputation standpoint.

I literally came home from the hospital, showered, and we drove 2 hours into the mountains to shoot a wedding. Bloated from laparoscopic surgery, doped up on pain meds, unable to eat because of the nausea and yet we showed up. And I hiked around the mountains and photographed an 8 hour wedding.

Don’t get me wrong – my couple that day was absolutely amazing and so were my second wedding couple the next weekend. Randy took lead for both days, they let me take my time, the other vendors were incredible and helped me out when they could. I would shoot and excuse myself to go throw up, because I couldn’t keep food down. Randy was the only one who knew how truly terrible I was doing because all I was worried about was making sure my illness didn’t effect their special day.

And now I’m sitting here in the same boat. I know what’s coming, and I feel absolutely sick about it.

The truth is: small business owners can’t really afford to get sick.

We can’t afford to not show up, to cancel, or to not be 100% when we do show up. We can’t afford the risk to our reputations, to the point where so many of us keep our battles silent. Especially when there’s a cancer diagnosis – I’ve seen firsthand that it scares off people.

I have already had to refund canceled sessions, because I couldn’t reschedule them. I’ve had to book an additional photographer out of my own pocket for an upcoming wedding to assist, because I don’t know how well I’ll be able to handle photographing in the hot desert for 3 days straight a week after having major surgery. I’ve had to humbly ask for deadline extensions for my college courses – because of course I get diagnosed with cancer and have to have my thyroid removed during my final 8 weeks of college before finally earning my Bachelor’s degree that I’ve worked for, for nearly 19 years. Literally the story of my life. 🙄

We also got my first cancer bill in the mail this week: a little over a thousand dollars for my biopsy. For a a 20 minute outpatient procedure. A thousand bucks.

Biopsy bill for thyroid cancer

But over the last few days, I’ve seen something else and that’s what has inspired me to write this blog in the middle of the night. I’ve seen how people can truly come together when the shit has hit the fan, especially for small business owners like me who are facing the scariest time in their lives.

You want to know how you can help me? Here’s how, and I promise – it’s super simple.

Just think of me.

I would never in a million years be comfortable with the idea of asking for donations, but instead I am humbly asking for you to think of me. Think of me, not only this week, but in the upcoming weeks and months as the bills pour in.

When your friend excitedly shows you her new sparkly engagement ring, think of me.

When you are overwhelmed with blogging and need a ghostwriter, think of me.

When you’re struggling with things like branding, SEO, building client relationships or marketing, think of me.

When you’re wishing you had some updated photos for social media or your website, think of me.

When you’re wishing you had updated photos of you with your babies, think of me.

When you’re coming to Wisconsin for a once in a lifetime trip, think of me.

When you’re struggling with the idea of removing toxins from your hair and skin products, think of me.

When you see opportunities for my name to be on the tip of your tongue, think of me.

Just think of me.

And when you see an adorable dog photo or video or a dog meme, think of me. Tag me in it, share it with me.



Leave a Reply

Heyyyy ... I'm Ashley Durham and I'm a luxury wedding photographer in Phoenix, but I travel all over Arizona and the desert southwest to hang out with the most incredible people. I am obsessed with puppies, extra hot coffee, sunrise and firmly believe that love conquers all.

Meet Ashley


the experience

your investment