People nowadays have access to calorie-packed foods and items such as affordable vehicles, food delivery services, and over-caring family members, allowing them to get a constant stream of food with little to no effort. Sadly, that is the case for many of “My 600-lb Life” patients, who often actually weigh up to 720lbs.

Although many succeed in losing and keeping off a significant amount of weight, some were not so dedicated. Most patients return to their old ways without a strong resolve to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise and proper medication. A critical component is their support system consisting of people keeping them accountable, family members, or the show’s medical professional, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, known as “Dr. Now.”

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Many patients suffer from other physical or mental illnesses, too. Consequently, 13 patients died between the show’s premiere in 2012 and early 2023, and unfortunately Ashley Randall is one. Let’s analyze her journey, what led to her untimely passing, and how her family handled her legacy.

Ashley had a complicated relationship with her mother

Before Ashley Dawn Randall, from Killeen, Texas, USA, bravely embarked on the weight loss journey in TLC’s show, she had a family problem. When Ashley became a patient, viewers noticed she had difficulty connecting with her mom, Patricia Ann Hosman.

Unlike other typical cases, her mother wasn’t an enabler who fed her food addiction the opposite; she belittled her growing up, and made fun of her food struggles and weight gain. It seemed that the isolation and negativity contributed to her reaching a weight of over 600lb during her primary and secondary education, especially as Ashley matriculated from Ellison High School in the class of 1999.

Facebook groups for the show and forum boards such as Reddit were full of personal experiences of people growing up in a hostile environment and with parents who constantly criticized them. Those commented that Ashley couldn’t be ‘happy and healthy’ until she distanced from her mother, who didn’t believe in her and only made things worse. They also remarked that another family member usually came to their defense, which was the role of Ashley’s father.

Viewers think her mother leaving helped her lose weight

However, Ashley and her mom made amends after 2011, despite viewers claiming ‘she tortured her with mean comments in the show.’ She admitted her that mom still gave her a hard time toward the end of her mini-series, denying any influence on her diet as a kid. However, the two started taking long walks and cooking healthy meals together. On 14 December 2013, two years after the show ended, Ashley had an early birthday dinner with Patricia, posting a picture of them with the caption, ‘Thank you, mom. Love you.’

Moreover, her mother left her after her father’s death in 2014 and went to live with Ashley’s sister, Megan Mattox – fans think that her mom did her a favor. Although she was most vulnerable when her mom went away, this forced Ashley to change her surroundings. She lived with a friend, went out more often, and allowed herself to focus on healthy eating.

Ashley achieved outstanding results in the first season of the show

Knowing Ashley’s dysfunctional family relationship, helped viewers understand why she became a patient. She joined in season one, during the last of five mini-series that followed five patients over seven years between 2004 and 2011. Viewers connected to her much more because the next season only filmed patients for a year. She was the youngest participant in the show, born on 15 December 1980, and thus appeared in the show aged 24.

Although Ashley weighed 617lbs or about 280kgs at the start, she was not the heaviest. That fact, combined with her age and strong desire, made Dr. Now and her fans at home excited about her upcoming weight loss. Ashley proved them right; from a chaotic diet of eating over 3,000 calories daily, she got to restricting her food and liquid intake due to a gastric bypass operation. Ashley reached a weight of 253lb, or about 115kg, before a significant weigh-in event.

Her progress stalled because she didn’t qualify for a skin removal operation

Although her progress was outstanding, meaning she lost 364lbs or 165kgs, Dr. Now stated that  he would need her under 200lbs or about 90 kgs to qualify for a leg skin removal operation. Ashley’s dream was crushed; she felt her hard work for the last four to five years would get her to her goal. After all, based on the doctor’s prediction, removing excess skin would put her in the overweight range, and let her move without chafing.

Dr. Now was happy, however, and instructed her on how to stay on track. Based on his plan, Ashley would need two examinations, and if she succeeded in losing the planned weight, they would schedule an operation after the second.

Unfortunately things turned sour; she lost discipline and willpower, started slacking off on food and physical activity, and didn’t attend the clinic for three years. When she did, during the “Where Are They Now?” special TLC aired in 2015, her fear was confirmed; her weight went up to 312lb or 141.5kg.

Another potential skin removal operation motivated her

Restarting her journey would require her to lose 30lb or 13.5kg by the next meeting with the doctor, but she failed to follow his recommendation, only losing 2lb or just under a kilogram. Dr. Now, known for not dancing around a serious topic, informed her that all her hard work would be in vain if she continued on the old path.

That confrontation awoke something in Ashley. She lost 40lbs or 18kgs in only six months, reaching 272lbs or 123.5kgs, letting the doctor outline a new weight loss course that would get her to 200lb to be considered for skin removal again. Although the show ended there, without her getting the surgery she desired, subsequent unconfirmed reports suggested that she lost more weight.

Fans were in the dark about Ashley’s post-show progress

Unlike later seasons of “My 600-lb Life,” the first season aired the “Where Are They Now?” special three years later instead of after a year. Therefore, fans knew very little about her progress between 2012 and 2015, and what happened to her after the special premiered.

Luckily, Ashley posted Facebook updates about her family occasionally, indirectly posting about her progress and wanting to weigh at least 240lb, which was her original weight goal. However, she never mentioned her weight loss progress and mostly wore outfits that obscured her body lines. That left fans to wonder whether Ashley got a skin removal surgery until September 2014, when she did an ALS ice-bath challenge on Facebook. In a roundabout way, she showed she was still working on shedding weight but had yet to undergo such a procedure.

Ashley was also in a positive mood in 2014, posting motivational quotes such as, ‘Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. You only have one life, one chance, to do all the things you want to do,’ and many from the Bible. Additionally, she posted recipes she found tasty or beneficial for weight loss, such as healthy potatoes oven baked at 425F or 218C with olive oil, butter, and sea salt.

She continued working on things that made her happy

Ashley stated in the show that her excessive weight stopped her from opening and owning a childcare facility. Although she didn’t have any, she listed her profession on Facebook as ‘taking care of children since 1992,’ meaning she started at 12. She also re-posted cute or funny kid-related photos from the Internet. Additionally, her Facebook profile was full of pictures of her four nieces, Abigail, Scarlett, Mikailia and Aurora, from her younger sister Megan. Finally, she posted children-related news, such as when Sam’s Club recalled Simply Rightbabywipes because research found harmful bacteria and warned of the hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreak in 2014.

Moreover, Ashley’s relationship with her mother flourished after the special aired. As mentioned, things began improving when Ashley continued her tertiary education, which she paused to care for her father in 2010. She started studying early childhood education in 2012 at The University of Arizona and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in administration in early child care in 2014. She also never forgot her father, honoring his memory every 31 October since he passed away in 2011 and starting a Facebook fundraiser for the American Cancer Society for her birthday in 2020.

Furthermore, Ashley continued posting about things that made her happy, such as following nearly all football matches of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns, her favorite teams play, and having nights with a game of pool. She also enjoyed the movie “Gladiator” from 2000 and considered buying a 2015 GMC Terrain truck. Although she rarely mentioned it, she or her family had a bulldog she thought was ‘just like a human.’

Ashley passed away in October 2021

Things have been quiet since January 2021, when Ashley posted a memory of her grandmother with her children and grandchildren from 2017. Then, news broke on 2 October 2021 when an online obituary showed that Ashley Randall passed away at age 40, at a local hospital. Additional research by online publications showed that she passed away from sepsis, as she had been ‘battling a terrible infection’ that caused pneumonia in the hospital.

Her family members updated close friends and family a few days later by posting a Facebook picture of someone holding Ashley’s hand. Thus, she was either sleeping or on life support before passing away. In April 2014, Ashley complained about a severe infection in her arm and body pain, but noted that something bit her. Thus, these two are likely unconnected.

Her family mentioned that the memorial service would be held six days later at the United Methodist Church in Florence, Texas. Young’s Daughters Funeral Home and Bereavement Center handled her funeral arrangements. The obituary mentioned her other interests, such as collecting shot glasses from different states, photography, and signature dishes she made – brussels sprouts and pico de gallo. Fans swarmed the page to light virtual candles in her memory and celebrated that she was reunited with her father, whom she loved so much.

What was the real cause of her passing?

Because doctors frequently mentioned pneumonia during the COVID-19 pandemic, fans immediately suspected that Ashley had passed away due to complications of the coronavirus. Others remembered her mom’s harsh comments, and suspected that she may have taken her own life.

However, neither was true. One of her nieces, most likely Abigail, was a Reddit user and responded to those comments First, she said that while her grandmother treated Ashley terribly during the mini-series, she regretted ittreated her well in later years, and cried uncontrollably after seeing her daughter’s picture. Second, she denied that her aunt had COVID-19, let alone died from it.

Her family was mostly silent on the issue except to post pictures with her. Her mother seemed the most vocal, sharing images from Facebook pages and groups about grieving people. On Ashley’s birthday in 2021, she posted a picture of them together, and assured Ashley that the family was celebrating with her favorite meal, a mix of Shrimp Lo Mein with no shrimp.

On the year of Ashley’s passing, Patricia posted, ‘I can’t believe it’s already been a year, Ashley, since you gained your wings and went to heaven. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you; I miss that beautiful smile on your face; I miss those phone calls; I just miss you. I love you.’ Patricia also frequently grieved her husband, whom she called “Billy,” and like the fans, found solace that they were together in heaven.

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