INDIANAPOLIS — Inside Riley Hospital for Children there are a lot of moving parts.

Each tower, floor and healthcare worker has a vital role.

Helping kids is of course the main goal, but that can look different for everyone.

From doctors to nurses to even techs, everyone’s role is important when it comes to the care of a child. Those roles can have a profound impact on a patient’s life.

For some patients, time at Riley can seem like an eternity, and for many kids, years can be spent there.

For Ashtyn Brown, it was most of her childhood.

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Brown was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 6, in July of 1999.

“I said ‘Mom am I going to die?’ And she didn’t know,” Brown said.

It’s a battle she won, but in 2002 she had a relapse.

“Cancer is not my past, cancer is a part of me,” she said. “The odds dropped below a 10% chance of making it out period.”

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But that 10% chance of hope is all she needed. A battle she willingly took head on, becoming cancer free.

Brown says the relationships she gained in the years she spent at Riley would last forever.

However, most of those friendships wouldn’t physically last forever.

Her Doctor and friends didn’t beat the battle with cancer.

“It’s still not fair and I don’t know why,” Brown said.

Brown says life after cancer is a daily challenge. Often after the phrase “cancer free,” it’s a perception that the disease no longer has a hold on someone.

Brown says that’s not the case, “Every morning it’s a forceful 5 minutes at a time. Survivors guilt. Is this good enough, am I good enough for my friends who aren’t here. For Dr. Goldman, would he be proud?”

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Brown lives with a lot of guilt. She remembers her good friend Lexie who didn’t beat the battle.

She says Lexie had a lot in common with her, but when she had highs, Brown had lows, and vice versa.

Recounting Lexie’s funeral, Brown says her father was a pallbearer, something her friend asked for.

“I felt so bad that I was going home with my mom and dad. I was like I don’t even know if her parents are capable of leaving the cemetery today, and that’s not fair,” she said.

Brown has decided to turn her guilt into her passion.

At the age of 27 she changed career paths. She says a job in communications wasn’t fulfilling her.

She decided to go back to school, this time for Radiologic Technology.

While in school she says she knew exactly where she wanted to work.

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“I have to carry the torch in their light,” she said.

Brown has now started working as a health care worker for Riley Hospital for Children.

For Brown it was a no brainer.

“It’s home for me. I grew up here,” Brown said.

Brown recognizes that it could be seen as difficult to return to a place that held so much darkness for her.

She compares life after cancer to a soldier returning from war.

There are scars, both physical and mental, and she says PTSD is a battle she faces daily.

While at the same time, she says it’s the least she can do in memory of the lives lost.

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“People take it differently. They’re super thankful for being here but they never want to walk through the doors again. For me, it’s a familiarity and a comfort zone,” Brown said.

She is now offering a sense of understanding to the patients, in a full circle moment.

She says Riley also offers survivor support groups to help talk through the trauma cancer can leave.

“There is hope but there’s a difference in everybody’s story,” she said.

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