Woman helps terminally ill patients, families create celebrations

Ashley Jackson married the love of her life, Troy Thompson, in 2018 after Thompson survived a rare and deadly form of cancer. His strength and resolve during his health crisis inspired Jackson to start a business helping terminally ill people plan celebratory events. CONTRIBUTED
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Ashley Jackson married the love of her life, Troy Thompson, in 2018 after Thompson survived a rare and deadly form of cancer. His strength and resolve during his health crisis inspired Jackson to start a business helping terminally ill people plan celebratory events. CONTRIBUTED

Inspired by her father and her husband, she started an event-planning business

“Everyone deserves a celebration.” This is Ashley Jackson’s mantra after some devastating personal experiences changed her outlook.

Born and raised in Piqua, Jackson was a self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” and Paul “Skip” Jackson was devoted to his daughter. Jackson’s dad encouraged her to always live life to the fullest and chase after her dreams. Then 10 years ago, he passed away suddenly at just 55 years old.

Paul "Skip" Jackson was devoted to his daughter Ashley and she, to him. He passed away suddenly 10 years ago at the age of 55. He inspired his daughter to always chase her dreams. CONTRIBUTED
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Paul "Skip" Jackson was devoted to his daughter Ashley and she, to him. He passed away suddenly 10 years ago at the age of 55. He inspired his daughter to always chase her dreams. CONTRIBUTED

“I was inspired by the way he lived his life,” Jackson said of her father. “Because you never know when you will take your last breath.”

The devastating loss changed the trajectory of her life and Jackson quit her job with plans to travel around the world. She planned a nine-month long trip, and vowed she would use the time to work through her grief and figure out her own path for the future.

“After I returned home, my boyfriend, Troy Thompson, proposed to me on New Year’s Day 2017,” Jackson said.

Then in March of that same year, Thompson was diagnosed with stage 4 nasal cavity cancer. Doctors said he had only a 35% chance of survival.

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“He started his chemo and radiation treatments in Cincinnati,” Jackson said. “I became his caregiver in a blink of an eye.”

At the age of 31, Jackson was suddenly not only a fiancé, but was also a cook, chauffeur, housekeeper and sole provider since Thompson could no longer work. The couple remained hopeful, but after two months, Thompson’s tumor grew back and nearly doubled in size.

“We were told Troy would need surgery and could lose his eye,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, they did end up removing his left eye and part of his nostril and skull.”

Thompson was permanently changed, but Jackson said her love for him never wavered and she looked at it as “just another obstacle to overcome.”

“I kept saying we could postpone our wedding,” Jackson said. “But he didn’t want that because the wedding was the reason he kept fighting.”

So, after Thompson’s recovery, the couple got married on Aug. 11, 2018 in Piqua.

Ashley Jackson and Troy Thompson on their wedding day in 2018. The couple overcame many obstacles including Thompsons cancer diagnosis before celebrating their wedding together. Today, Thompson is cancer free. CONTRIBUTED
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Ashley Jackson and Troy Thompson on their wedding day in 2018. The couple overcame many obstacles including Thompsons cancer diagnosis before celebrating their wedding together. Today, Thompson is cancer free. CONTRIBUTED

“It was more than just a wedding celebration,” Jackson said. “We were celebrating the fact that he was alive and made it to that point.”

After the couple returned from their honeymoon, Thompson’s scans showed the tumor was returning and doctors advised them to “call Hospice,” because there was nothing more that could be done.

But Thompson refused to accept this prognosis and begged his doctor for another option. One week later, Thompson and Jackson received the call that one more exploratory surgery had been scheduled.

“Troy has had so much done to him,” Jackson said. “But he is strong, and inspires me every day.”

In March of 2020, Thompson was finally cancer free and in July of that same year, Jackson decided to start a business designed to help chronically and terminally ill people and their loved ones plan celebratory events. “Timeless Dream Events” was created in honor of Thompson and Jackson’s dad.

“The business is my heart and soul,” Jackson said. “We love to celebrate life each day and I want everyone to feel the same way.”

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Jackson, who has also written a book about caregiving and turning pain into purpose, encourages others to write about their experiences just as she has done.

“I’ve been blessed to help multiple caregivers,” Jackson said. “I recently officiated at and helped plan a wedding at the Hospice of Miami County for a dear friend of mine who wanted to get married before her father passed away. Just seeing the love that filled that room was amazing.”

Jackson said that launching her business in the middle of a pandemic didn’t deter her. She ended up meeting more people via email and video calls who had read about her own love story and were inspired by it.

“People see the experiences I’ve had and they want to work with me,” Jackson said. “I have amazing clients and I’m grateful I followed through with my purpose to see where it took me.”

Troy Thompson and Ashley Jackson believe in celebrating life every day and want to help other people celebrate their special moments. Timeless Dream Events is their business created to help people plan events of any size and budget. CONTRIBUTED
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Troy Thompson and Ashley Jackson believe in celebrating life every day and want to help other people celebrate their special moments. Timeless Dream Events is their business created to help people plan events of any size and budget. CONTRIBUTED

Jackson helps anyone plan weddings, parties, showers and other events on short notice and with any budget in mind. She only wants to ensure that everyone can plan that special celebration, no matter what the circumstances.

“Even in your darkest hour, I always say, try to find some kind of hope,” Jackson said. “Hope and faith is what got me through the past few years and my dad always told me, ‘You can either have your footprints in the sand or your butt prints on the couch.’ That has always stayed with me, and I will always be chasing and trying my best to catch my dream.”

For more information, visit timelessdreamevents.com.

Contact this contributing writer at banspach@ymail.com.