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(story by husband Matt Rose)
My beautiful wife was first diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in March 2012, just a little over a month after we moved from St Louis, MO, to Richland, WA. Angela was 34 years old. We had purchased a new home, and she was just starting her career as a nurse practioner. Together with our 4 year daughter, we were looking forward to starting our life in the Northwest.
The unfortunate timing (is there ever a fortunate time?) of her diagnosis, along with the move over 1800 miles away from our nearest family, did not allow for Angela to leave her job and focus solely on treatment and herself. That meant balancing work while undergoing six months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, expanders, radiation, and multiple reconstruction surgeries that were unfortunately complicated by infections.
Through it all, Angela always made time for one of her passions, Zumba, whenever she was physically able. Zumba was her outlet and her chance to feel in control of her body. Being able to participate in, and when opportunities arose teach, Zumba helped her make amazing friends in a short amount of time. This group of friends we made became our family away from home and gave us the strength to move on and grow.
Reconstruction surgery unfortunately took longer than the treatment itself, and it was not completed until 2014. Angela had expanders and then implants followed by a capsular contracture that lead to another surgery to release the hardened tissue. This was followed by infection, then implant removal, time to heal, then another expander, and finally a latissimus flap surgery in April 2014. During this time she remained true to her passion, Zumba, and also got her group involved in raising money for the Chest of Hope with multiple Zumbathons.
In July of 2014 we decided a change was needed and we moved 3 1/2 hours west to Portland, OR. We wanted to be closer to the mountains and the coast. We spent the next two years enjoying all the great outdoor opportunities this area has to offer. Angela loves to hike, bike, run, snowboard, camp, and body surf in the ocean. When you live in such a beautiful place as Oregon, you cannot help but want to be outside.
In May of 2016 we finally decided where we wanted to buy our next home and settled just south of Portland in Wilsonville, OR. Shortly after moving into our new home, Angela could tell something was not right, insisting that her oncologist investigate. In July we got the news, it was back, stage 4. There were mets to her liver, ovaries, and to her skull. She is now taking Ibrance and a new hormone blocker. Fortunately for us this therapy is working, shrinking the tumors with the hope of giving her the necessary time for a cure to be found.
At least this time we were better prepared, allowing Angela to cut down on the amount of hours she has to work, giving her the ability to focus on her health and our now 9 year daughter. Angela has returned to Zumba as well as doing all the outdoor things she loves to do. Currently she is also training for a 10K race which I am sure will follow with a half marathon. Not only is she the love of my life, but my inspiration on how to live it as well.
We at Handful are proud to honor Angela Rose as our first #CancerCrusher