By Jordan West

CLEVELAND, GA (TMNews) – Ashley Roby, a freshman Healthcare Administration major and basketball player from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., credits her journey to Truett-McConnell all to Christ, sharing that the battles she experienced with her health allowed her to find strength in Him.

Health battles in high school

Roby’s testimony is unlike the average high school student’s story. Basketball had been a valuable part of her life since she was in elementary school, and she had hopes of playing in college.

She explained, “In my freshman year of high school, in the middle of basketball season, I noticed a lump on my left breast. I didn’t want to say anything about it, but it started growing and hurting.”

“My grandmother is a nurse,” Roby continued “so I went to her, and she told me we needed to get it checked out. I went to the doctor, and he said that it didn’t look like cancer, because I was so young, but he still wanted to remove it.”

Roby shared how the diagnosis was a shock to the healthcare professionals: “When we had the biopsy done, the doctor came back and told me that it was cancer. On February 17, 2012, I had it removed. They found it had spread to my lymph nodes.”

Roby had several other procedures following the initial removal of the cancer. She recalled, “In April of that year, I had a double mastectomy, and then in the fall of my sophomore year, I had reconstructive surgery.”

Finding God in the hospital room

Roby remembered, “When I first found out I had cancer, it went over my head, and I wasn’t close with God like I should have been. I wasn’t reading the Bible, and I wasn’t dedicated to Him.”

She had ignored the knocking at her heart for a long time, saying: “As it went on, when I was in the hospital, getting ready for my double mastectomy, it really hit home, and I found faith in my Lord Jesus Christ.”

Roby is thankful for people who never gave up on her, recalling: “My middle school basketball coach came to the hospital almost every day. He shared the Word with me and one day it just touched me. I was miserable and I realized that I had to put God first.”

“When I started putting Him first, everything went uphill. I felt like my life was coming to an end, but He motivated me, and everything got better from there.”

Getting back on the court

One of the toughest struggles for Roby was not knowing if she would be able to play basketball again. She said, “After my cancer, I didn’t think I would be able to play basketball, but I had always wanted to play in college.”

Roby explained that her doctors were unsure if much physical activity could be part of her life sharing: “[They] didn’t think I would be able to do anything, like, no push-ups or pull-ups. But one day, six months later, I tried, and I was able to do those things.”

Her strength continued to improve. Remembering this time of growth, she smiled, saying, “I was able to play basketball again in my junior year.”

Roby still visits the doctor every few months for scans and check-ups, and she says that now, “Nothing is growing or changing.”

New life verses for a new life

She knows that her battle with cancer changed her forever, sharing: “I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all I went through in the hospital.”

Throughout these tough times, Roby clung to Philippians 4:13 and Joshua 1:9, remembering that strength from Christ is unmatched.

She said in regards to the verse in Philippians: “Everyone kept saying that verse to me, and that was when I wasn’t close with God. So after I got saved, that was the verse that always came to mind.”

From Tennessee to Truett-McConnell

Roby knew Coach Hibdon before he took the job at Truett-McConnell. “Coach Hibdon got the job here and contacted me and told me, ‘You would fit Truett perfectly.’”

She has fond memories of her tour, and of those who played a part in getting her to TM. She remembered, “I came on my first visit in April 2014, and I loved it so much that I committed that day. It was like a big family, and with a Christian school, I knew that it would keep me focused around people that have the same goals as I do.”

Roby continued, “Hayle Swinson, the Assistant Soccer Coach, took me on my tour. She made sure I felt like I was home that day. She wrote me a card two weeks after my visit, and I still have it in my room.”

The support has continued since she arrived at Truett-McConnell. She explained, “Hayle, Coach Hibdon, and Coach Price did everything they could to get me here, and they make sure that I’m okay every day. Even Dr. Reynolds [Truett-McConnell’s Vice President for Academic Services] is always checking on me, making sure I’m doing well.”

Roby emphasized, “I feel like this is my second family. Really, they’re like my first family, because they always make sure I know I can come to them with any problems that I have.”

Looking forward to a future

Roby has learned in her few months at Truett-McConnell that, “It’s important to get to know people, to go out together and have fun on your own.”

As for her degree in Healthcare Administration, Roby credits her time in the hospital to giving her this desire: “I would like to work behind a desk in a hospital. I want to be in the health field.”

She implores others considering TM that they ought to: “Come to get closer to God. Your relationship with God is more important than your sport, or your degree.”

Roby has found a home in the mountains. She said, “When I go visit home, I can’t wait to get back here.”

She has several expectations for her next four years at Truett-McConnell: “I’m looking forward to my relationships with other people and with God getting stronger.”

As far as her plans for basketball, she added: “I plan on winning the conference in basketball at least one year I am here!”


Jordan is a senior English major and is an Intern for the Communications Department.

Photo/Blake Bramblett, Student Writer/Photographry Intern

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