Angie Heitz was just two days from her 50th birthday when she learned of her inconceivable yet real diagnosis on June 9 of last year.
It’s called small cell cancer, considered one of the most aggressive in how it spreads through the body. By the time she learned of her condition, the cancer was Stage 4 and already in her brain, throat and lung, according to her daughter Klorissa Ammons.
Heitz’s condition is so extreme that she has been admitted to Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Ala., for heart tests.
She lives in Anniston now, but for nearly nine years was a resident of Luling. Heitz, her husband and daughter relocated shortly after Hurricane Katrina damaged their home.
And then, last year, everything changed again.
“It started off with her having headaches real bad … with a stuffy nose and thought it was a sinus infection,” Ammons said. “She put it off (seeing a doctor) until she couldn’t walk five feet and nearly passed out. She would give three words gasping for air and we knew there was something wrong, and that’s when they diagnosed her.”
Incredibly, doctors found multiple tumors on her brain, as well as a tumor that extended from her throat down to her left lung, which is posing heart issues.
“I was mad at first, but then I thought God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” Heitz said. “You meet a lot of people that are worse so you’re blessed everyday one way or another.”
Ammons said she and they have had a very hard time.
“We’re trying to do what we can to make ends meet,” she said. “We can’t make one thing happen without something else going wrong.”
But her daughter emphasized her mother isn’t the type to admit she is struggling.
Her doctors were concerned about even doing a biopsy for fear it could cause a life-threatening seizure, according to her daughter. They opted to begin treatment with chemo and radiation first.
So far, radiation and chemotherapy treatment, which have to be taken five days a week, have been helping to shrink the tumors, but the stress and demands of maintaining this schedule and medical costs are taking their toll.
Heitz thanked everyone for donations.
“I can’t work any more,” she said. “We live off of very little. This is a hard fight. Some days I don’t wanna move, but my family really pushes me.”
Ammons wept as she recounted her mother’s challenging condition.
Nearly two weeks ago, a test revealed a tumor around Heitz’s heart, which raised concerns about a possible blood clot and warranted more tests. They also want to do a bone scan to determine if the cancer is there, too.
Through this ordeal, there are also challenges dealing with insurance, which has denied payment on some drugs and treatments.
Heitz said she’s undergone 20 radiation treatments (10 on her head, 10 on her lungs and throat), and is on her second round of chemo.
But her daughter isn’t ready to quit on her mother.
“This woman is not only my beautiful mother … she is forever my best friend,” she said. “She is my rock. She is the strongest woman I know and I will not give up. Her fight is my fight.”
A gofundme account has been set up at www.gofundme.com/teamangie-no-one-fights-alone