Angela Witt speaks with assuredness and thoughtfulness about her life and the people in it. She’s a capable woman, dedicated as a mom to her 9 year old son and 11 year old daughter. Also, a Family Nurse Practitioner in Salem. She’s accustomed to caring for those around her. Even as she walks through a cancer diagnosis, surgeries and treatment her natural instinct to put her kids at the forefront of her life is clear.
Angela started CrossFitting at CrossFit Salem, where she met Original Warrior and founder of Everyday Warrior, Brittany Gill. While the two women didn’t know each other well they also attended the same church. Angela would not have imagined 4 years later their paths would again cross through Brittany’s legacy of a non-profit organization. In 2013 Angela started attending CrossFit West Salem, near her home. Her membership is currently on hold as she navigates treatment and recovery for invasive breast cancer.
After a routine mammogram in 2017 Angela received a call back for further testing. At that point Angela explains that she was not at all concerned. Callbacks were normal due to fibrocystic breast tissue. A cyst was the logical explanation. A subsequent ultrasound detected one mass on her left side and two on the right side. The radiologist noted they were concerning. The biopsy and official diagnosis came December 2017, just 2 months after her dad passed away from kidney cancer. The left breast was cancer-free, however a third mass was found on the right breast and a diagnosis of cancer was confirmed. Invasive breast cancer meaning the cancer “invaded” or spread to the surrounding breast tissue.
During every step of the process, with each decision, Angela’s primary goal has been to be around for her kids, to watch them grow up. There were a total of three surgeries attempting lumpectomies, but the margins of the tumors were not clear, there was ultimately too much invasive tissue to assure total removal. In addition pre-cancer cells were found in her lymphatic system, but not in the lymph nodes. Along with her medical team at Providence Hospital in Portland, Angela made the informed decision to proceed with chemotherapy. She considered her kids and a recent study showing chemotherapy having good results in helping stop the spread of cancer in women with invasive breast tissue in her demographic. On August 22, 2018 Angela finished her fourth and final round of chemo. She says that last round kicked her butt. Still, she is grateful and has leaned heavily on her faith. The side effects however have been impactful. Neuropathy, loss of hair, early menopause, reduced energy level and immunity.
Through treatment Angela worked to keep her kids routine as normal as possible. Especially important for her son who is on the autism spectrum. She has made a conscious effort to appear as healthy as possible and reassure her children, as they need it. The kids lost their grandfather to cancer so near the time their mom was diagnosed that Angela has been sensitive to their fear and easing their worries. It happens that Angela’s dad thought Providence was an excellent hospital; Angela even worked at the hospital before graduate school. When Angela learned her doctor was in the very same suite as her father’s oncologist, she felt a certain sense of order, of comfort. Angela is reminded always of the connection she and her dad share when she thinks of their favorite verse, Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Recalling these words offers her peace. Another blessing along the way is her background a nurse. It has been beneficial in understanding the medical language and procedures. It leant a very natural avenue for her to advocate for her own health.
Angela has an incredible support system around her. The clinic she works at focuses on the homeless and underserved communities. A compassionate bunch, her colleagues gifted her with Merry Maids cleaning services after her first surgery. At the time she couldn’t lift a thing, or raise her arms so it was the best kind of gift. Her mom, a TOTAL ROCK! It’s through this network of friends and family as well as her faith that a support system for healing has been weaved. “It’s not a journey I wanted to take, but I know God will see me through.” Angela has been quoted as saying. Nikki Moore at CrossFit West Salem nominated Angela as a Featured Warrior. Yet one more stone in the wall of hope and comfort, of folks reaching out. Nikki describes Angela as “a strong and beautiful soul.” Angela was originally introduced to CrossFit by her brother. It seemed like a good idea. Her son was 5 at the time and she knew she needed to be physically capable to help respond to some of the symptoms autism was presenting. CrossFit West Salem is cheering her on as she recovers. Angela relayed a conversation her mom had with a friend. The friend, learning of Angela’s cancer diagnosis said “there will be little miracles along the way.” Indeed there have been. She explains, “God has been so faithful to me” and that she has sincerely felt the miracles along the way. Through the unexpected, the unplanned, dealing with the unknown, Angela has found a whole new way of living. Gratefulness abounds. Grateful that the cancer was caught early. Grateful for a new perspective on what matters. Angela says she worries less. She feels the sun on her face and feels the joy of that. She says she will never-ever again complain about a bad hair day again!