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Overcoming Personal Challenges With The Support Of The Industry

Ask for help when you need it — you never know who can benefit from sharing your story

Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano
holding helping hands

For those of you who do not follow me on LinkedIn, I call myself a pretty active mortgage professional who thrives on connecting and building relationships in this industry. I took a step back for a few months to where people that know me began to ask where I have been. Sadly I was not sipping Mai Tais on an island.

In November I started feeling some discomfort in my neck, pressure when I talked, and a little more tired than normal. I blamed it on one of the other few ailments I have or stress. Who isn’t stressed!? Went to the doctor and she felt something on the right side of my throat so she sent me off for an ultrasound.

So, I go just to check the box. Yup. They found a few nodules — no big deal … everyone has nodules, right? So she sent me off to another doctor, who then sent me for a biopsy: people have them all the time. Heck I’ve had three biopsies over the years. They are usually nothing. Well the biopsy wasn’t favorable this time. Ughhh big sigh and lots of tears!

About nine weeks later they diagnosed me with thyroid cancer. Yes, the big C! That’s a word no one wants to hear. No matter where the cancer is or what stage it was in. I lost my Father, Grandpop and two aunts to cancer. So, that news was crazy scary. I kept it extremely quiet until I saw the surgeon to go over next steps — ALONE — thanks COVID guidelines!

Now to tell your close friends and family the news and you get the look. Or the “Eh, it’s just your thyroid.” Note to all: don’t ever do that to someone. It’s a big friggin deal to a person going through it.

Fast forward five weeks of worrying and getting everything ready and I’m off to surgery. Fingers crossed and all the prayers. Out of all the surgeries I’ve had, this one scared the daylights out of me. I even wrote notes to my boys god forbid something happened.

The surgeon was able to keep half of my thyroid! After 48 hours of no liquids, just applesauce and pudding for days, days of excruciating pain, some minor issues while healing and a WICKED scar like I got knifed smack in the middle of my neck … and I’m Still Standing Better Than I Ever Did. (I know you’re signing with me.) Here I am about 10 weeks from surgery and my voice is finally getting back to normal.

During this tough time I was able to confide in several of my mortgage family members. There are so many to name! Without them this would have been much harder. I couldn’t imagine doing this without them. Everyone needs support and love.

I share this because Mental Health Awareness month just passed. It is very hard to keep positive when you are in the middle of the storm but if you have a good crew to support you it is so much better. I encourage all of you to ask for help. At first I was afraid to look vulnerable then decided to open up, you never know who can benefit from sharing your story. Don’t be afraid to open up. And most importantly listen to your bodies.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine July 2022 issue.
Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano

Ashley Gravano is vice president of product solutions at Mortgage Cadence.

Published on
Jul 06, 2022
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