Ashlyn C. Lee

April 26, 2008 - September 3, 2023

Ashlyn Lee passed away from DIPG on September 3, 2023 at the age of 15, after 8 months battle with this cancer first diagnosed in mid of January 2023. Ashlyn was our first child, and she was always loved and surrounded by her younger brother, family members, friends and her doggies. I earned my Ph.D. of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Did my postdoctoral research at Stanford and UC Berkeley. Having my career in biotechnologies and IVD industries. Unfortunately, my knowledge and expertise could not do anything to save my daughter’s life.

Ashlyn was a gifted child. She was brilliant, lively, passionate, selfless and humble. She cared and inspired everyone around her. She lived every day as bright and strong as she could. She was very keen on learning and did great in academic, music and sports. She planned to be a medical doctor when she grew up, and she liked studying Science, Mathematics, and Literature very much!

During her fight with DIPG, she was suffering from her health conditions, treatment side effects, anxiety, emotional stress, social isolation and missing school and friends. Even though with all her pains, she kept optimistic and hoped every day. She helped wipe off the tears of us, her little brother and friends. She demonstrated the incredible bravery, resilience and strength until her very last breath.

Her kindness, passion, voice, and smile are in our hearts forever. She is loved and memorized by her family and friends ever. I wish her story and love can be shared and remembered. I hope our donation of her specimen can be meaningful to research and science communities, and one day those efforts could deliver the true impacts to save children and their families from this devastating disease.

Consuelo ‘‘Connie‘’ Chalfant

Consuelo or Connie as she was known to family and friends was born in 1942. She was the second youngest in a family of five. Growing up my mom was always an active little girl. She was very successful in her athletic achievements. She excelled in diving and track and field, but fell in love with weightlifting and training others. She worked as a personal trainer before it became a real thing. While working for Ray and Clare Stern she really learned a lot about inspiring athletes and training the body to change its appearance in positive ways. She was married to her loving and devoted husband, Clyde (Buddy) Chalfant and they had two sons Rob and Chris. As a family we were very active and did a lot of outdoor/sports activities. My mom was the trainer and my Dad the coach.

In 1972, she was diagnosed with Scleroderma and told her life expectancy would be shortened and she would have lots of pain from this disease. Many doctors were not sure how to approach this disease and were learning along with my mom. She had to adapt to the new daily struggles and road blocks this disease caused. But she always had a great attitude and had the full support of our family. My grandparents and her siblings and friends all stayed positive with her as well as my dad who was dedicated to give her all the support and encouragement she needed. Year after year, my mom was told she was on borrowed time. Diagnosed at 30, now at 40, she was still alive. There was loss of hand movement and lot of pain due to sores on her fingers and thumbs; but she made adaptations to golf clubs, weightlifting equipment and even a bowling ball. People started to notice and see this lady would not let anything stand in her way. Doctors from Stanford and her medical team at Kaiser were amazed by her positive attitude and determination not to give up. As my brother and I got older, we could really appreciate our Mom’s perseverance in her daily battle with pain and fear of the unknown. Many surgeries and procedures to help her manage life a little better became normal for us. She was determined to live her life to the fullest no matter the obstacles she faced. When her grandkids were born, she started working harder to stay alive, not only for them but to show them you can overcome many challenges with the right attitude and faith. My mom made it to 50 and then 55. At 55, she decided to challenge herself by entering the Miss Fitness USA competition. She dropped body fat and got into the best shape of her life. She trained like a professional bodybuilder and worked with a coach at Powerhouse gym in Redwood City. She not only completed that challenge, she was featured in the magazine. This was proof, you can do anything you put your mind to, even with Scleroderma. At 60 years of age with Scleroderma and other health challenges, she was proving the prognosis wrong.

My mom was an inspiration to many, especially with the National Scleroderma Foundation. She had the opportunity to meet several people battling the same disease and come alongside them to encourage and mentor those newly diagnosed. “You got to keep moving” that was her and my Dad’s mantra… keep moving! She made it to 70 and was still training and helping to inspire others to keep moving and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Her faith in GOD gave her hope, peace and strength. She was the longest living person diagnosed with Scleroderma. She made it to 80! It was a tough year, my dad was battling cancer, but she was right there trying to keep him positive. When he passed away, it was like she lost a piece of herself.

Mom passed away in March. Her life was an amazing gift to us. She always wanted to help those battling with Scleroderma especially the young people. We are grateful for Stanford School of Medicine, RAC for giving my mom the opportunity to continue to make a difference and hopefully find a cure for this disease.

Mike Lang

Mike Lang died April 16 after valiantly fighting metastatic adenocarcinoma with unknown primary for seven years.

He and his wife celebrated their 51st anniversary the day before on April 15. She and their four children were with him.

Mike was well known in the welding industry as he sold and worked with welding supplies for 48 years. He retired about two years after his cancer diagnosis and took up beekeeping, building up to three thriving hives. He brought to this new hobby the same love and work ethic he brought to all of his endeavors. He was actively working until his last week of life. Much as he loved his bees, he loved his family more. He was forever grateful to them, his many friends, and his great medical team.

He was a tenacious problem solver and a generous gift-giver. He had a great sense of humor that pain dampened a little but he still had a sense of humor even his last week in the hospital. He had a donor circle on his driver's license but was sad thinking that because of his cancer, he would not be able to donate his organs. What the Research Autopsy Center at Stanford gave Mike was one last future dream, a dream that fulfilled all he ever wanted to do throughout his life -- to be helpful.