The family of Ashleigh Simrajh, 23, who died from cancer one month ago, have released her intimate wedding video to continue spreading her powerful message, and thank the local community for their support.
Last month, doctors told the terminally-ill young woman she had just days to live, but Ashleigh, who was diagnosed with melanoma, fought like a “superstar” marrying the love of her life, Jason Hale, in an emotional ceremony on the Gold Coast.
“Ashleigh pushed through until her wedding and lasted another 10 days after that which was an absolute bonus for us,” her distraught father Tony Simrajh told news.com.au.
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The Queensland woman lost her battle on September 13, more than a year after health practitioners advised her the lump on her leg was probably a wart.
Right up until her passing and despite her deteriorating condition, Ashleigh was still doing interviews in the hopes her story could save someone’s life.
“When Ashleigh got told she was close to death and there was no treatment left, so many people would have curled into a ball, but Ash didn’t,” Mr Simrajh said, adding that his
daughter continued to campaign for everyone to get regular skin checks and make sure doctors perform basic medical tests.
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In the emotional wedding video, which the family shared with news.com.au, Mr Simrajh told the 50 guests his daughter wanted no-one else to go through what she had.
“When you have children you have one job and that is to protect them — that’s been taken away from me so now my job is to get her message out there and encourage people to get their skin checked if they notice something that shouldn’t be there,” Mr Simrajh said.
He also said releasing the extremely personal wedding footage was a way to thank the Gold Coast community for their support — from Facebook group Gold Coast Girls in Business, Sea World and wedding planner Hanna Raymant from Boho Luxe and Co — who rallied to help make Ashleigh’s special day come true in just five days.
“We also got messages of support from around the world including Nigeria, South Africa, Russia and Portugal, with some people saying because of Ashleigh’s story they got their skin checked and found out they too had melanoma.”
Initially, Ashleigh was told the lump was nothing serious and was sent to a surgeon without taking a biopsy.
However, after she knocked it, causing it to bleed, she visited another doctor who performed a biopsy, discovering she had melanoma.
The cancer then spread to her lungs, liver and chest.
“This shouldn’t have happened and Ash was driven by making sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Mr Simrajh said.
Mr Simrajh, who lives in Melbourne, temporarily moved to the Gold Coast to care for Ashleigh full-time, alongside her mother Tracey.
He described Ashleigh as his best friend, with her passing not only turning his entire world upside down, but also that of her husband Jason.
“He was with her throughout the entire journey. Any other 21-year-old boy would have said ‘I’m out’, but he didn’t,” Mr Simrajh said.
“If you watch their wedding video, you can see just how much they loved each other. They had their whole life ahead of them.”
Mr Simrajh said his daughter was betrayed and let down by the healthcare system.
The family have since launched legal action against two practitioners saying it is not about money but is instead about the doctors “owning up to their errors and taking responsibility”.
He is adamant in spreading his daughter’s message: Get your skin checked and trust your instinct.