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changed my life forever
ASHFORD of Days of Our Lives
was crushed when his precious daughter Emma was diagnosed with eye
cancer. But her brave struggle and miraculous recovery have made
him appreciate life more than ever.
"It's changed my life. I'm not sweating the small stuff anymore,"
Ashford, 41, tells Star. "I try to appreciate
and find humor in things much more."
He and wife Christina thought they'd never smile again after doctors
told them in 1997 that their precious 4-month-old daughter had retinoblastoma,
a devastating cancer of the retina.
"We were told to prepare for her to lose her eyes," says
the actor. "But I went into survival mode. I felt this was
something to fight."
Ashford, who just signed a three-year contract to reprise
his role as Jack on the NBC soap, says his brave little girl had
to undergo grueling chemotherapy and laser treatments at L.A.'s
Children's Hospital in but doctors saved her eyesight.
"The laser surgery heated up the tumors and allowed the chemo
to sink in," says Ashford. "She had 35 surgeries over
two years. They were able to stop the growth of the tumors."
Today, Emma has vision in her right eye and peripheral vision in
"Fortunately, our daughter is doing great," reveals the
soap star, who also has a daughter, Grace 8. "Emma's a survivor.
She's a bright, funny little girl who is full of life."
Now he has joined forces with Bold and Beautiful's
Hunter Tylo, who also has a daughter with the disease, to form Retinoblastoma
International, an organization that raises awareness of the rare
"We're still taking baby steps," he says. "But we've
raised $300,000 and grant money has come in for research and development.
We devote a lot of energy to the organization.
"We want to reach people worldwide and let them know how to
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