Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Faithfully trusting God to save her son from brain tumour

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle and Anastasia Cunningham
Phillip Mitchell
Angella Mitchell (left) and her 15-year-old son Phillip.
1
2

Mom of 15-y-o cancer patient faithfully trusting God to save her son

Overwhelmed with the anxiety of getting her second child through the final stages of brain-cancer treatment, 42-year-old Angella Mitchell is both grateful and stressed.

Three gruelling surgeries later, which saw the single mother of four racking up millions of dollars in medical expenses, today 15-year-old Phillip Mitchell begins radiology, the final stages of completely eliminating an intraventricular brain tumour.

"It has been so hard, so many mixed emotions right now. I am so glad he has gotten over the worst, but I am still worried about the treatments he has to do. Not to mention not knowing where the money will come from to pay what we owe, plus to pay for the treatments. I just want it to be over. It has been so strenuous and expensive," the teacher told The Gleaner.

Mitchell said that were it not for the help of the church, family and friends, she wouldn't have gotten this far.

"You can't imagine what it has been from day to day. I have used up all my savings to save his life, and it was all worth it. Phillip has been so wonderful about it. He is such a wonderful, humble boy, loved by everyone, with such a wonderful church family," she said.

"He is worried about the radiology, but we all hope that this is it and it will finally be over soon."

His doctor, consultant neurosurgeon Dr Peter Charles at the University Hospital of the West Indies, who started treating the young man in October of last year, is also expecting good results.

"Phillip first presented with signs of raised intracranial pressure, with symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, and so on. A CT scan of the brain showed that he had an intraventricular tumour, with obstructive hydrocephalus," Charles shared.

However, following a series of surgeries, the tumour was successfully removed.

"Since the resection, Phillip has been doing quite well. I just saw him today (Monday). He is up and about. His memory has returned, which was going. He is walking on his own very well. And he is now being referred for radiation. He will not need chemotherapy. We have resected the tumour completely and he now needs radiation to reduce the risk of it recurring in the future," the doctor said.

"Phillip is stable right now, he is doing much better, and he is on the road to recovery. All being well, he should be able to return to school in another two to three months."

POSITIVE FEELING

Phillip, whose speech is slurred and his face slightly twisted because of the illness, said, "I feel positive that God is going to heal me."

On New Year's Eve, when many of his friends were at parties or had gone to watch the fireworks in downtown Kingston, Phillip was in church giving God thanks for sparing his life to see 2016. Being an ardent churchgoer, he was quite at home.

"I don't feel good about having to do more treatment; it is extremely painful. I just want this whole tumour thing to vanish so I can go back to school," the third-form Meadowbrook High School student shared.

He said he had not been to school since he was diagnosed with the tumour on October 10 last year, and hearing that he should be able to return to school in a few months has put a smile on his face.

Phillip, who has received awards from his school for English language, revealed that his goal in life is to become a doctor so he can help the sick and be of service to his country.

Mitchell, who lives in Portmore,

St Catherine, with her children, said it was a long and arduous journey getting to this stage.

The mother explained that three years ago, her son began having severe headaches and was also vomiting frequently. She took him to a doctor, who told her he was having migraine, and began treating him on a regular basis on that diagnosis.

"I spent a whole lot of money on the supposedly migraine," she said.

"Phillip's body stopped responding to the migraine medicine in July last year and the doctor began to give him injections. In September, he began to lose some weight and he also lost his appetite and had to be taken to the doctor regularly."

She continued, "On October 10 last year, while Philip was at school, the nurse called to tell me that he was very ill. I went for him and rushed him to another doctor, who gave me a referral which was marked 'Urgent' to take to the hospital. Tests revealed he had a massive tumour that engulfed his brain, and since then, he had to do two surgeries to save his life and a third one for stability. It is only my faith in God that is keeping me through this difficult time."

phenomenal support

Mitchell is now trusting God and hoping for the best, and is grateful for the phenomenal support from everyone.

Friends, neighbours and church brethren have described the young man as well-mannered and friendly and have all said they wished they had the resources to help with his medical expenses.

"As Christians, we are leaning on God's grace and mercy to see us through. I am determined to do whatever it takes to see him through his recovery. But right now, we are in need of financial support, as I have exhausted all my savings," the faithful mother said.

Not sure how the exorbitant medical bills will be paid or where the money will come from to pay for the radiation treatments, Mitchell said she is taking a leap of faith, given the urgent need for the treatments.

"Only God knows what will happen, but I trust Him to work it all out," the hopeful mother said.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com; barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com