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The trip to Africa was already planned, and what a trip it would be for 9-year-old Angiel and her mother, Damaris. They would travel a distance of more than 8,000 miles, and it would take almost an entire day to get there. But it was going to be the journey of a lifetime.
But instead of going to Africa for a family reunion, Angiel and Damaris found themselves at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, fighting for Angiel’s life.
“Most of my family is in Kenya,” said Damaris. “This was going to be Angiel’s first trip. She was going to meet her cousins and aunts and uncles.”
A detour to hope
Angiel suffers from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. She has tumors in both legs. Along with chemotherapy, she has had limb-salvaging surgery on her right leg, during which doctors removed the tumor and part of her femur and tibia. The affected bone was replaced with a metal rod that will extend as Angiel grows. Damaris is thankful that St. Jude doctors were able to save her daughter’s leg.
Damaris is not sure how much longer Angiel’s treatment will last. Once she finishes chemotherapy, she will undergo surgery on her left leg to determine whether she’ll need another limb-salvaging surgery. When Angiel became sick, Damaris left her job as a cardiac nurse to remain by Angiel’s side. She is grateful that they will never receive a bill from St. Jude for Angiel’s medical treatment. This makes it easier for Damaris to focus on getting Angiel well.
Longing for home
The trip to Kenya is on indefinite hold. Angiel’s treatment is complicated. Her physical therapy sessions can be grueling as she relearns to walk, but she’s a strong girl. She loves her doctors and nurses, which comforts Damaris during this especially trying time. These days, instead of dreaming of visiting family in a foreign land, Angiel dreams instead that she’ll soon be home in Alabama, where she can play with her friends and walk on the beach.
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