Archived News

DA undergoes breast cancer treatment

Ashley Welch pictured in her office with her dog Bella. Donated photo Ashley Welch pictured in her office with her dog Bella. Donated photo

District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch announced that she has breast cancer and is undergoing medical treatment.

“I wanted to publicly share the information to raise awareness about the importance of early detection,” Welch said. “Because of the threat of coronavirus, health officials say many women are delaying or even skipping routine mammograms. I am proof that these basic health checks save lives.”

Barring a mammogram, Welch likely would have learned about her cancer later in the process, risking additional spread of the disease. 

Welch has stage II breast cancer. Doctors expect her to make a full recovery. 

“Going public with private information is tough,” Welch said. “But, I believe that it is the right thing to do.”

Welch holds elected office as the top prosecutor for the 43rd Prosecutorial District, made up of the state’s seven westernmost counties.

Related Items

The district attorney has continued working, though on a limited basis; meanwhile, day-to-day office functions have been handled by staff members.

“I have a terrific team of people,” Welch said. “Their determination to take care of the court’s business while I take care of this health issue makes me value them still more.”

 Welch had surgery last month and starts radiation treatment after Thanksgiving. She will be treated for six weeks, five days a week. 

“I am truly grateful for the outpouring of support from colleagues, other lawyers, judges, law enforcement and members of the media, who have known about my diagnosis almost from the beginning,” she said. “Cancer is frightening. But the support has made my journey easier than it might have been, otherwise.”

The American Cancer Society recommends routine mammography for women starting at age 45; however, doctors are increasingly discussing with their patients the benefits and risks of earlier mammograms.

“Have that conversation,” 42-year-old Welch said. “Figure out what’s right for you, then follow through.”

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.