Breast Cancer Group Hails Leaders with Courage and Passion

When Sandy Ashby was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer four years ago, at first, she brushed it off, concluding she was strong and healthy and would be just fine. But her cancer fought back, and Ashby ultimately had to put a plan for survival in place.

That’s when a friend introduced her to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC), where she was put in touch with a peer mentor and the received the advice and comfort of support groups.

In a matter of months, Ashby became a strong advocate and volunteer with the organization, serving as a peer mentor herself and creating teams for the Dewey Goes Pink 5K. Later, she and husband Bob, owners of the Ashby Hospitality Group, launched their own Deer Park Goes Pink 5K at their historic Deer Park Tavern, which has gone on to raise $25,000 for breast cancer research and support.

Referring to the Ashbys as “tireless community advocates,” the DBCC awarded the philanthropic leaders with the Spotlight on Philanthropy Award at their annual awards reception on June 8th. The 2018 Shining Light Awards honored those who have made a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

“When I met the women of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, I learned several words in their purest form – passion, compassion, strength, clarity, and empathy,” said Ashby. “Those are all pretty awesome words to describe an incredible group of dedicated ladies who make up the heart of the DBCC. I have never once left a conversation without a clear answer to my questions and a renewed sense of optimism.”

Expressing gratitude to friends and family who united in countless ways to support her journey of survival, Ashby said it was they who deserved the DBCC award. “Believe me when I say that my family and friends are the ones who should be awarded for their incredible organizational skills, their tireless efforts, their energy, and their ability to offer warm hospitality to all.” 

Other 2018 DBCC honorees included:

• Former First Lady of Delaware Carla Markell – Spotlight on Survivorship Award (accepted by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long on behalf of Carla Markell)

• Dr. Wendy Newell of Wolf Creek SurgeonsSpotlight on Healthcare Delivery and Research Award

• Love Congo – Spotlight on Survivorship Award

• State Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and State Sen. Liane Sorenson – Victoria Cooke Leadership Award

WSFS BankSpotlight on Business Award

Longtime DBCC staff member Cathy Holloway also received a surprise Spotlight on Survivorship Award at this year’s event at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Holloway’s own breast cancer journey lead her to join DBCC in 2006.

Since then, she has helped countless women and their families through hardship. She also helped to build and expand upon survivorship programming, overseeing the expansion of the peer mentor program, clinical trials education and formal research initiatives. Holloway, who is leaving to pursue other professional opportunities, was responsible for working with local area hospitals, community leaders, and elected officials to advocate for patients, underserved communities, and other breast cancer constituencies.

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.