There are many cancer patients in Northeast Mississippi who are battling some type of cancer for the first time. Their nights are sometimes sleepless as they face the reality of the news and the fear of the unknown before them. However, many come in contact with Nursing Supervisor Angela Bryowsky who takes the time to talk to them….pray with them.. and help them get through these dark nights. For you see Angela is also facing the reality of cancer………for the 5th time.
Angela Cantrell Bryowsky will always be my sister-in-law. Who cares if she and my older brother were divorced many, many years ago. We share a family bond that will never be unbroken. Angela is also a true hero. A fighter. An inspiration to so many as she refuses to let cancer destroy her life.
In 1998, Angela was was diagnosed with a oligodendroglioma grade 2 brain tumor. She was only 32 years old. Even 13 years later it still seems impossible. Surgery was needed quickly and in September of ’98 it was performed and then… joy. The surgeons were very pleased and the scans after surgery were clear of any of the remaining tumor. There was no reason to radiate the “good brain” at that time and they also felt no chemotherapy was needed. The family celebrated this great news! She went back to one of her favorite jobs of her career as a flight nurse 6 weeks later.
For the next 5 years things were back to normal. Angela continued as a flight nurse and was active like other mothers in her church and the school booster club. She was living a happy life with her husband Joe and her children. However, things took a terrible turn in 2003. After a routine physical there was a problem. Totally unrelated to the cancer from 5 years earlier, shockingly… cervical cancer with lymph node involvement was the diagnosis.
Cervical cancer brought a hysterectomy and a lot of intense chemo that year. It was defeated. Then in 2004, the cervical cancer returned as a metastasis to the right hip bone. Radiation and chemotherapy were started again. Further tests revealed the cancer in the other hip, the spine and the right femur. Angela continued to work full-time in her job as the nurse educator for Emergency Services at the same hospital while taking daily treatments of chemo and radiation again for 6 weeks. At that point the cancer was gone! After 3 more months of chemo the treatments were stopped. Once again joy and relief. That was 2004.
Forward to New Years weekend 2006. While driving home from a family celebration, Angela began experiencing stroke-like symptoms and went to the ER. CT scan of the head showed the brain tumor had come back. After seeing several specialists and a biopsy of the tumor, it was decided to have surgery in March of 2007. The surgery was to take place at the “Brain Suite” in Texas due to the depth and fragile place of the tumor recurrence. The surgeons were once again able to get “all that they could see” in the intra operative MRI and ultrasounds. Recovery was 6 weeks and Angela was then back at work as her job as Nursing Supervisor in Northeast Mississippi.
A few months ago, Angela went back for her regular checkup. A normal scan of both sides of her brain found a tiny spot. Once again, the brain tumor had returned. In 2007, the doctors had warned that this was possible and thank God it was caught early – again.
Currently, Angela is battling the brain tumor with a week-long, once a month chemo treatment. This does bring on a lot of nausea and makes her extremely tired. The regrowth is in the right frontal lobe and has grown very, very slightly since initially detected.
So Angela is facing potential monthly chemo treatments for a long, long time. The fact that it is Stage 2 and should be controllable with the chemo is the current reality. However, the possibility of radiation and stronger chemotherapy vs. other treatments down the road is always in the back of her mind. As always, its in God’s hands.
Specialists in Mississippi follow her as she takes a chemotherapy drug in pill form on a monthly basis; initially it was spaced out to once every three months. Now, its once a month.
As I talked to Angela recently it hit me how much she had kept from others. The pain, the long sleepless nights, the nastiness that comes from chemo. She truly represents why I run for the American Cancer Society and I am honored to call her my sister-in-law.
In 2 weeks, I will run the Chicago Marathon and I will run in the honor of Angela Bryowsky and many others who have lost this battle, are fighting this battle, and have survived this battle.
My prayer is that not only will Angela recover fully but that the money that is being raised by the many members of Team Determination will be used to find a cure for the millions who are in the fight for their lives.
To donate to The American Cancer Society in honor of those who Angela represents in your life please go to my personal page http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/DetermiNation/DNFY11IL?px=20820458&pg=personal&fr_id=35207