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

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes West Kelowna mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)
COVID-19 exposures at Kelowna elementary school

Interior Health confirms virus exposures at Pearson Road Elementary

A render of the proposed expansion at Kelowna Christian School. (City of Kelowna)
City of Kelowna staff support major expansion of local school

Expansion would increase the size of Kelowna Christian School by roughly 3,540 square metres

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

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

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read