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Teen battles ovarian cancer

Deangelo Minus describes his daughter De’Andranique “Dede” Minus as an active, typical teenager – one who loves sports, and loves to surf the web. Sweet, kind, generous and considerate were also words he attributed to his only child whom he raises as a single father. And then there’s the fact that she’s a 3.50 average student – so she’s smart too. But with all of that the one thing he never expected was that, at age 17, his teenage child would have undergone surgery to have an ovary removed as she battles ovarian cancer. Or that all of the cancer would not be removed after surgery, forcing his daughter into more treatment.

In July 2018, Dede began experiencing pains on her left side. Initially her family chalked the pains up to the constant standing she was doing for a summer cashing job she’d had. But the pains never let up and her dad recalled his daughter saying to him, “Daddy, this just don’t feel right”, at which point he took her to seek medical attention and was initially told she probably needed to eat more fiber and to watch her pain for a month. The pain continued.

“I took her to a private doctor who did an ultrasound and they saw a mass,” he recalled.

Minus then took his daughter to the Princess Margaret Hospital, where Dede was diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer in October 2018. From the time of diagnosis to surgery on November 4 to remove her left ovary which the mass covered, Minus recalled the mass beginning to protrude out of his daughter’s side. Dede also had to take four cycles of chemotherapy.

But even after her surgery, Dede’s pain continued.

“We were going to the hospital like every other day trying to get medication for her,” said her grandmother, Ikenna Johnson.

The doctors found the cancer had spread to her liver and spleen, and suggested more chemotherapy. Her body did not respond well to the treatment.

With the pain increasing, Dede’s family said they realized the St. Augustine’s College 11th grade student was starting to lose hope of her dreams – one of which was to become a track and field Olympian. To “clear” her mind, they decided a change of environment would be good for the teenager. Her dad and grandmother flew the youngster to Florida, where they met up with her aunt, Kayla Johnson.

“Coming here was supposed to have redirected her thoughts, her hopes and her dreams. We still have hope, and she didn’t have it,” said Johnson.

They said Dede was doing well upon arrival in Florida, but the evening of their arrival, began experiencing shooting pain on her right side. They made her tea. The pain continued. They called the paramedics and Dede was admitted into a Florida hospital. An ultrasound revealed lesions all over her stomach.

But at the same time, the doctors were optimistic, according to the family.

“They didn’t make us feel afraid. They were pretty optimistic that we had treatment options.”

When Dede was discharged, the next evening, her symptoms reoccurred.

She was readmitted to a second hospital from which she was discharged last week Tuesday after spending another three days in hospital where she had been treated for pain management and bed care.

The family returned to New Providence last week Wednesday at the urging of the United States-based doctors after their meeting. They advised them to seek continued treatment for Dede at home.

“[The doctor] explained to us it would be better if we go back to The Bahamas and allow them to continue to do the procedures there and get her treatments from there because it’s basically the same treatments that they will be doing here,” said Dede’s aunt from Florida before her family returned home.

“He convinced us, although it was hard for us, because we had to make drastic decisions. We still hadn’t decided whether or not we wanted to come back to The Bahamas to do the procedures,” she said.

Dede went from the airport to the hospital upon her arrival.  

Despite being told to bring Dede home for treatment, her grandmother said they would like for the teen to have treatment at the best facility, because they want the best as they do their part to ensure that Dede can realize her future.

The teen does not have insurance. A GoFundMe page has been started with the goal to raise $200,000 to assist in Dede’s medical funding. As of Thursday, $4,479 had been raised by 92 people in three days of crowdfunding.

According to the family, all of the medical professionals they have spoken to have given the teen an optimistic prognosis for the disease that they say is curable.

As they prepared to return home, Dede’s aunt said her niece has days when she’s confident in herself and what the doctors can do for her, and she has days when she’s really down.

But her grandmother says through it all, her granddaughter is a strong young lady.

“She was raised by her father. He was her mother and father so-to-speak. He grounded her spiritually. Her foundation was built on their spirituality. She’s a believer of the Lord, Jesus Christ and her father is a man of God. Anyone who knows them would say what a great job he’s done with his daughter… She’s so well-mannered, so well-kept. I don’t have to do very much for her, other than for her to watch me walk up straight.”

As she battles cancer, Dede does so without her biological mother or contact from her maternal family by her side. The family said the teen’s mother has been out of her life for many years, and that Dede last saw her mother when she called her mother in October 2018 to wish her a happy birthday. The mother invited the teen to have lunch with her at the Mall at Marathon and Dede hasn’t seen her since.

Despite this, her family says the teen isn’t missing out on love, as she has love from all quarters from her paternal family.

“She has a close-knit paternal family who are all there for her,” said her aunt, who too expressed pride in her niece’s accomplishments, including having made the SAC track team. Dede also hasn’t attended school since September 2018 as she battled the pain and cancer.

But they say Dede isn’t just fighting cancer, and wanted to shed light on the different things she’s going through and battling.

 

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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