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

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires Vancouver Island wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The Port Alberni Train Station is located outside the entrance to Harbour Quay, on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Port Alberni gets funding to restore heritage train station

Historic train station needs seismic upgrades

Raw logs are loaded onto a logging ship from a log sort down the Alberni Inlet in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News
Port Alberni light on industrial land

Report finds few suitable locations for new industry

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College plans tourism networking event

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Vancouver Island’s tourism industry

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read