Angela’s Story

Site created on July 18, 2020

Welcome to our CaringBridge site for Angela. Layton and I, with the help of others, are using it to keep family and friends updated about her condition, until she becomes better able to write to you herself.  Angela's cancer odyssey began Memorial Day weekend.  She began to experience severe headaches, and she lost most of her ability to see out of her left eye.  An emergency surgery on Sunday, May 24, removed most of the tumor and restored her vision.  Though we were thankful for that outcome, the biopsy revealed that the growth was cancerous.  After many tests, scans, and another biopsy, her doctors and pathologists identified the cancer as an unusual, aggressive, and rapidly growing carcinoma, magnified by its location in the upper left sinus, near the optic nerve and the brain.  The next step on her journey is an extensive operation, involving an oncology head and neck surgeon, neurosurgeon, and reconstructive surgeon.  After the surgery, she is expected to be in ICU for several days, and hospitalized for 10 to 14 days.  Her recovery is expected to take months, requiring treatments we cannot identify until the surgery is complete.  Angela appreciates your prayers, thoughts, calls, contacts,  and cards sent prior to the surgery.  Your support and words of hope and encouragement will help her through the difficult times. Thank you for loving her, and for helping all of us .

Newest Update

Journal entry by Davis Powers

Many of you have admonished me for the length of time since my last CaringBridge update. I apologize.  I should have updated you sooner and more often on Angela's progress.  

If you take into account all that she experienced since June, Angela's physical recovery from the surgeries progresses very well.  As the doctors expected, the transplant has atrophied considerably, especially since the onset of radiation therapy.  The facial wound continues to close, and her skin has regenerated over most of the opening, to the extent that little or none of the transplant tissue is exposed completely.  Complete healing and regeneration of the transplant and wound will require several more months.

Since August, Angela has had radiation treatments every weekday except Labor Day.  Happily, the course of 33 scheduled radiation treatments is scheduled to end Thursday.  Unless future scans indicate a need for a radiation therapy boost, she will complete radiation treatment then.  Except for redness and dryness of the skin surrounding the transplant, radiation treatments have produced few, mild side effects.

Angela also began chemotherapy treatment in August.  She has had 2 chemotherapy infusions, and is scheduled to begin a third on Monday, October 5.  So far, the side effects of chemo, for which the doctors have combined very strong medicines to combat the aggressive and destructive cancer, have been harsh, but have been less severe than they could have.  She spends most days resting and sleeping, a healthy response that promotes the fastest healing. Even when feeling her best, Angela is extremely tired, and nausea is a constant companion.  Compounding illness, she has lost most of her appetite, sense of taste, and hair.  Her lab results indicate that she has a very low white blood cell count, a marker of a compromised immune system, which makes her very susceptible to illness, and required to quarantine.  So far, she has avoided unexpected illness, but if her WBC does not reach into an acceptable range for treatment, she will not undergo chemo infusion on Monday.  It would be postponed until the following Monday.  We will not know until she receives lab results on Monday.

Unless the doctors decide differently, she will undergo a total of 4 chemo infusions, with the fourth expected to begin 3 weeks after the third infusion begins.  Lab results could also require its postponement. Unfortunately, the negative effects of chemotherapy, like the medicinal effects, accumulate and compound, rendering her health, treatment, and recovery increasingly unpredictable.  

Angela misses her family, friends, and work, and she misses her independence.  The guilt of not being with her grandchildren and job weigh upon her, as though she she has failed them. You might think that she has survived the worst of this, but I believe that she needs your kindness, thoughts, prayers, and deeds more than ever.  Angela is courageous, resilient, and, with a few exceptions, positive through this experience. The best prognosis, however, the worst being unthinkable, is that she faces additional surgery and recovery throughout the first half of 2021.  

Despite the trauma of the past and the anticipated challenges of the future, we have much for which to be thankful and many reasons to be hopeful.  It will not suffice to repay you, but I will spend the remainder of my life thanking you for your kindness and generosity toward her.  Through God's grace, you have helped keep her alive. Even so, I ask you to pray for her, love her, and contact her to help her through these next few weeks and months.  Blessings and thanks to you all.
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