“You can wither and fade because the odds are against you or you can choose to fight and make your own journey,” says Judge Ashley Bradford Wysocki of the 44th District Court of Dallas County.
As an attorney and as a judge, Wysocki has faced numerous challenges in her rise through the legal system, but nothing matched the stage-four oligometastatic breast cancer diagnosis she received at the age of 37. The news came while she was not only breast feeding her 18-month-old daughter, but also just 18 months after being appointed to the bench.
One of Wysocki’s strengths is her common sense – an ability to evaluate the facts of a situation and apply them to the challenge or opportunity at hand. That ability was a major factor in the ongoing success of her personal and professional life.
“When you receive this type of diagnosis, the statistics will take your breath away. I realized quickly, however, that with the medical science we have today you really can’t accept those statistics. Those numbers are retroactive and then it takes time to publish the results. I knew the scientific advances were ahead of those statistics. I believed I could overcome those odds,” she says.
Other than the birth of her children, Wysocki had never been hospitalized, never had any major illnesses, and was in perfect health. As one of only two Republican incumbent district judges in Dallas County facing an uphill election, Wysocki was familiar with having the odds stacked against her professionally. Suddenly, she was living a personal life where the deck was stacked against her as well.
“We decided to throw everything at it we could. We hit it from all angles,” she says. “I really had no option. My children mean more to me than anything in the world. I had to fight for them, even when it felt insurmountable.”
She endured chemotherapy followed by six rounds of targeted radiation and then 33 rounds of radiation to her chest. Surgery and medication followed.
Wysocki found another source of strength in a renewed relationship with God. “I recognized that I had neglected my relationship with God. And I really turned to God to get me through this. I also had amazing support from my family, friends, and the community, who called themselves ‘Ashley’s Army.’ You have a choice. You can either accept that the odds are against you and cower or fight. We went to war, and we won. In the beginning of October, I had my first post-treatment scan, and I had no evidence of the disease. Now it’s just about keeping it like that,” she says.