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story.lead_photo.caption Following a breast cancer diagnosis, Ashley Baker finds support and peace through her family. To help fund her upcoming double mastectomy, a bowling fundraiser will be held 1-3 p.m. Feb. 23 at California Lanes. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Baker)

Ashley Baker had noticed a concerning difference in her breast last September.

The breast felt harder than usual, which led Baker to perform a self-examination. It was then Baker discovered a lump. The following Thursday, Oct. 4, Ashley visited an oncologist, when she learned the lump was, in fact, breast cancer.

"I was diagnosed with stage three inflammatory invasive ductal carcinoma with triple positive," Baker said. "After the doctor's appointment, they sent me straight into the mammogram and ultrasound. They told me they would more than likely do a biopsy, and that's when I was officially diagnosed."

Working through Goldschmidt Cancer Center, Jefferson City, Baker was immediately set-up with a nurse advocate. This advocate helped Baker and her family set up appointments, which were a common occurrence for the next two weeks. Lab draws, scans and meetings with a great number of doctors, as well as protocols and surgeries, became part of her life after her diagnosis.

"Just now, they did a scan to double check a small bone area in my sternum," Baker said. "The results came back, and they did diagnose me with stage 4 metastasizing to the bone."

Despite her diagnosis, Baker has her husband, Jon; son, Jase, 5; and daughter, Erin, 3, by her side. The support also extends from her parents and aunt, as they organize raffles and other fundraisers to help Baker and her family with medical expenses.

All of these benefits fund "Team Ashley," the progress of which may be seen on her Facebook page.

"It started with a gun raffle to get me started," Baker said. "And the local Eagles Club did a little Christmas raffle for me, and there is going to be a big dinner and motorcycle auction benefit in April."

But before the motorcycle auction, Baker wants to bring a little "Sin City" to California.

To financially prepare for her double mastectomy March 4, Baker and Team Ashley will host a Vegas Night 1-3 p.m. Feb. 23 at the California Lanes. Sign in will begin at noon and admission is $25 per person with $12.50 going right to Baker. Of the food and drinks available during the afternoon, 10 percent of the sales will be donated to her, as well.

Following her double mastectomy, Baker said a company out of Columbia will provide her with a healing chair that is specially made for post-mastectomy patients.

"A couple of the other ladies, who were diagnosed young, notified me about this," Baker said.

Her new friends wanted to help, so the chair was set up for Baker, free of charge.

"It comes with journals of others who have had the chair before me," Baker said. "The chair is donated to the company and it named after who donated it. The journal has the names of everyone who had the chair before, with stories they've written in it.

"It's all to help us know we're not alone."

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