Ashley Hallford was 32 weeks pregnant when the diagnosis came. A hard lump on her neck wasn't caused by an infection in the salivary gland as doctors had suspected. Rather, it was "a rare and very aggressive" form of cancer, Hallford tells WXIA. A week later, the Georgia woman was induced and gave birth to a baby boy who didn't spend a moment in the neonatal intensive care unit—he was just four pounds but as healthy as a full-term infant, per Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers. "That was just a miracle," says Hallford—but it was only the first. After her softball-sized mass was removed days later in November 2007, doctors told Hallford she had stage 4 cancer with tumors all over her body. Despite receiving the lifetime maximum dosage of radiation in six weeks, the tumors kept multiplying until there were too many for doctors to count.
Given just five weeks to live, Hallford began chemotherapy, but she also started praying. Members of her church prayed for her, too. Then during a checkup in July 2008, doctors told Hallford that her cancer was in remission. "I was so dumbfounded," she says. Hallford has since given birth to two more children, though a fertility specialist had previously told her she would never become pregnant again. While she acknowledges the role that medicine played, "I credit my recovery to God," says Hallford, now 35, who speaks at churches in the hope that she'll "give people the strength to go on." Adds her oncologist: "Theoretically, with stage 4 cancer, you're not curable." Her recovery, therefore, is "nothing short of miraculous."