Friday, September 27, 2013

Grove girl undergoes treatment for brain tumor

Angelica Wilson, 8, plays
with her kitten Molly,
in front of her home. Wilson,
a third grader from Grove, underwent
a new laser ablation procedure on
Friday, Aug. 30, to remove a brain tumor,
at Cook's Children's Hospital
in Fort Worth, Texas.
In August, 8-year-old Angelica Wilson made history.

Oh, she didn't cure cancer, or negotiate a peace treaty - that may come when she gets older.

What she did do, is become the first child to undergo a new form of brain surgery at Cook's Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

Now, less than a month later, she is back at home in Grove, ready to take on the world.

The journey to Wilson's surgery began earlier this summer, when she was found in a swimming pool unconscious during a birthday party.

This was the second time Wilson passed out. The first, took place in May 2012, on the playground of the Grove Lower Elementary School.

At the time, explained her mother, Carey Wilson, doctors did not find anything wrong with Wilson. She exhibited no additional symptoms.

In June, after Wilson passed out again, her pediatrician at the Cherokee Nation Health Center in Vinita, Okla., Nicole Willis, decided to order a new round of tests.

This time, it came back conclusively. Wilson had a brain tumor deep within the cerebellum of her brain. After further tests at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Carey and her husband, John, were given three options for further care.

They chose to pursue treatment at Cook's Children's Hospital, because of the different options available for neurosurgery - including the use of an Inter-operative MRI scan, which allows surgeons to perform scans within the operating room, during surgery.

On August 30, Dr. John Honeycutt, the medical director for neurosurgery at Cook's Children's Hospital, performed a thermal ablation on Wilson.

In the past, the procedure would have required Honeycutt to perform a full craniotomy to remove the brain tumor. Using the new surgery, he made one incision and used a thermal laser to heat the tumor and remove the tissue.

This is the third time this form of surgery, using a Visualse machine, was completed at Cooks. Wilson was the first to undergo it to remove a brain tumor.

While a biopsy showed the tumor to be benign, Honeycutt wanted to remove the tumor because of the potential for complications as Wilson aged and the tumor grew larger.

Honeycutt said he chose to utilize the new procedure because of the location of the tumor, its size, and shape. The tumor being benign also impacted the decision to use the laser ablation.

"It lent itself to the perfect setup for treatment with this new technology," Honeycutt said. "If it didn't work, we had the ability to watch over time, and correct it with other methods."

While ablation procedures were available in the past, the equipment used electrical currents. Honeycutt said the laser helps make the treatment more accurate and reliable.

After the surgery, Wilson spent time in the rehabilitation wing of Cook's Children Hospital, undergoing physical, occupational and speech therapy.

While she has not had any issues related to her speech, the surgery has impacted Wilson's balance and fine motor skills. Her mother helps her walk using a gait belt. It will take between three to six months for the brain swelling to heal, and be more than a year from now before she is allowed to run or do anything beyond walking.

Wilson was discharged from Cooks on Fri., Sept. 20. She spent the last few days getting back into a routine at home. She also stopped by the Lower Elementary and saw her classmates in Barbara Couch's third grade class.

As of now, Wilson will stay at home and receive tutoring through the homebound program. On the days her mother works, she'll go to the Noah's Ark Day Care in Grove.

Carey Wilson said the daycare is a familiar environment for Wilson, and will give her a place to do her homebound homework assignments in a smaller setting.

Wilson will also undergo physical and occupational therapy at least three times each week. She hopes to return to her class at the Lower Elementary in January.

"The beauty of all of this, is that she really went with the flow," Carey Wilson said. "She never really freaked out.

"She was a little homesick at first for her pets - but friends sent pictures. She had a great attitude."

The fact that Cooks used therapy dogs, as part of Wilson's treatment, helped alleviate the homesickness, explained Carey Wilson.

"The first thing she wanted to do when we got home, was to see her dogs," Carey Wilson said. "They were already outside, and she sat down on the ground and started to pet them."

For now, Wilson's prognosis is good. Honeycutt said they will continue to monitor her health for many years.

"This was a miracle," Carey Wilson said. "God has watched over her."

Carey Wilson works as an office manager for the Cherokee Nation Health Center in Vinita. John Wilson is an over-the-road truck driver for Werner Enterprises. His primary responsibly is to make deliveries to Dollar General Stores.

For more information, or to follow Wilson's journey, persons interested may visit www.facebook.com/prayerwarriors4angelica.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This story originally appeared in the Sept. 27, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun. 

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