Ashley Kurpiel is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from a rare condition that is causing her muscles to slowly turn to bone. Her affliction is known as Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, and it is incurable.
She has already had to undergo a massive amputation of her right arm and shoulder, and her leg mobility is severely limited because of her discomfort and pain.
The condition not only affects her muscles, but also tendons, ligaments and other tissues in the body. Even small injuries can accelerate the spread of bone growth.
Despite it all she still goes surfing and puts forward an upbeat passion for life.
“I’m growing a second skeleton in a sense, becoming a human statue physically,” said Kurpiel. “I don’t know how much longer I will have movement in my body, so I want to experience as much as I can now.”
Indeed, despite the physical limitations that impact Kurpiel every moment of every day, she is determined to live life to the fullest. She surfs every year, and learned out to skateboard. She travels the world and has even met the Dalai Lama.
“I look for the positive side of things,” she said. “I’ve had my hardships and never know what the next day will bring, but I take each day as it comes.”
She also spends time as an ambassador for amputees and families affected by her same condition, and frequently writes and answers questions about the disease.
Her condition was first revealed when she was only two-and-a-half years old. Doctors thought she had a tumor, but quickly realized it was a misdiagnosis.
When she was a teenager she began to experience worsening symptoms of the Fibrodysplasia. Her body started to lock up and stiffen and she knew she had to start experiencing life to the fullest.