Keygan Power, pictured at B.C. Children’s Hospital, plays chess five to seven times a day during his recovery care. Keygan suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)

Keygan Power, pictured at B.C. Children’s Hospital, plays chess five to seven times a day during his recovery care. Keygan suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)

B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

A 16-year-old from Vancouver Island is trying to beat the odds again — this time after a brain bleed nearly killed him.

The first time was two years ago, when Keygan Power was diagnosed with cancer on his 14th birthday. It was anaplastic large lymphoma, meaning it was in his lymph nodes. He was assessed at somewhere between Stage 2 and Stage 3, his mom says.

This time, they are facing an uphill battle much different than the first one. This time, Keygan has progressed from fighting for his life to fighting to regain his speech and physical capability.

On Jan. 30, Keygan will return home to Saanich with his mom, Allison Power, and his little brother, after six rounds of chemotherapy and drugs.

So far it’s safe enough to say it was a successful treatment as there hadn’t been any sign of the disease since.

READ ALSO: Vikes rally support for alum battling brain cancer

The single mom raises her two boys on her own. This summer they went camping for the B.C. Day long weekend. They came home on Aug. 2 and, after a late night catching up online with his friends, Keygan woke his mother at 3 a.m., complaining of a headache.

“I gave him water, and sent him back to bed, hoping it would dissipate, maybe he was dehydrated from camping,” Allison said.

A few minutes later she heard a thud. Keygan was on the floor. His eyes were open, but he wasn’t responding.

Right away he underwent surgery at Victoria General Hospital.

“I was told he’s probably not going to make it to surgery or he’ll die in surgery. When he came out of surgery they said, ‘now his brain will swell,’ and that ‘the next three days were critical,’ so I sat there for those three days,” Allison said.

Keygan had to have a section of skull removed to accommodate the pressure of the swollen brain. He went into a drug-induced coma for 22 days with a respirator breathing for him.

READ MORE: Health struggles take financial toll on Saanich family

Eventually, he was weaned off the respirator but medical staff warned Allison he was likely to have suffered brain damage.

“At first, cognitively he was not there, he couldn’t talk or move,” Allison said. “As they took the drugs off he opened his eyes and you could see on his machine where he would finish his breath, you could see he had the will to breathe.”

After six weeks he was moved to Sunny Hill recovery centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital. He was the first to use a brand new room at the centre, where he’s had daily therapy.

It’s a journey, Allison said, that’s been exhausting for both of them.

This is a kid who is very bright, who wanted to be a programmer and was getting As and Bs in Grade 10, she said. Neurological tests show Keygan is still highly cognitive. He understands what’s happened to him, and remembers life before the brain bleed.

“He has 100 per cent awareness of what’s happened,” Allison said, including the trauma of grief and sadness. “He has global aphasia. He can’t talk but he understands. He can’t output what he wants to say. He’s locked in. He’s working on recalling words, and has built up to many words. He can read in his head, but not aloud.”

READ MORE: Put on a brave face, help make children’s wishes come true

Keygan is also recovering from general paralysis on his right side. He had to wear a cast on his leg but now wears a brace. He transitioned from being in a fully supportive wheelchair in September to his current situation of walking with a cane.

“He’s starting to get muscle movement back. Once one muscle gets going, the next one gets fired up,” Allison said.

One thing Keygan loves is chess. He’ll play anyone he can, nurses, doctors, therapists, and he’ll beat most of them, his mom says.

The next challenge is coming home. Keygan already visited for Halloween and Christmas, but this time he’ll stay.

It won’t be easy. Financially, it will be hard as Allison lost her job during the COVID-19 pandemic and both her CERB and the caretaker relief funds she was using have run out. And physically, Keygan went from being mostly independent and able to help at home to being in need of intensive care.

He’ll also go from daily therapies to weekly therapies that will come out of pocket for the family.

“We’re looking at ways to integrate him back into high school but we don’t know,” Allison said.

The family hopes a Gofundme fundraiser will help them transition into their next stage of life.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Keygan Power, pictured at B.C. Children's Hospital,  plays chess five to seven times a day during his recovery care. Keygan suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2.
(Photo Allison Power)

Just Posted

An artist’s rendering of the new fire hall and ambulance station for the Town of Creston, which announced the purchase of land on Jan. 14, 2020. (Photo: Town of Creston)
Town of Creston recommends increasing budget for emergency services building project from $5.4 million to $7 million

The town has cited rising construction costs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as a significant factor in driving the surge in the budget

A soldier walks along the outside of a crater formed through a demolition. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Military exercises assist with restoration of Lower Kootenay Band wetlands

A total of nine craters were created through demolitions, where the goal is to have them serve as future habitats for ducks and geese.

Al Garrecht holds up a plaque acknowledging his “service above self” from the Creston Valley Rotary Club during a tribute meeting on Feb. 9, 2021. Photo: Dave Handy
Creston Valley Rotary Club bids farewell to longtime member Al Garrecht

“Thank you, Al Garrecht. You leave an incredible legacy of service with CVRC. You live our motto, ‘Service Above Self’. Thank You.”

The Columbia Basin Trust has announced grants for biodiversity initiatives. Photo: Submitted
Columbia Basin Trust announces ecosystem protection grants

Three projects are sharing a $1.35-million grant

Fields Forward’s fruit press machine. (File photo)
Regional food processing facility coming to Creston

The facility will produce juices from fruits and vegetables, package vegetables for institutions, bottle jams, freeze-dry products into powders and provide other food processing services.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: B.C. teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Most Read