Award-winning author Angela Townsend is using the talent she honed during her son’s cancer treatment to give back to the organization that supported her during her son’s journey with the disease.
Angela had seen many warning signs before Levi was diagnosed. On her birthday, as Angela laid Levi down to change his diaper, the angle of light reflected on his eye, making his tumor visible. Angela also says that “The Glow” was noticeable in all of Levi’s photos.
Levi was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma in 1998 after his cancer was missed over and over during routine exams. Levi’s father was also a survivor of the disease, a hereditary form of Retinoblastoma. Since Levi’s diagnosis was late, the family was lucky that his cancer had not spread beyond his eyes.
After his diagnosis, Angela spent months traveling from rural Montana to Philadelphia to get the best treatment for Levi. Levi lost his eye, despite months enduring chemotherapy and other treatments. Angela transferred Levi’s care to Los Angeles where Dr. Linn Murphee and Dr. Robert Lavey were able to cure Levi’s cancer. The doctor’s were able to save Levi’s other eye, although he lost a considerable amount of vision, leaving him legally blind.
Traveling during treatment—with a second son in tow—proved to be a challenge, and the travel expenses began to add up. Spending hundreds of dollars a night on a hotel was taking its toll on the family budget, so they began staying at the Ronald McDonald houses in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Angela says there they found a safe haven that offered the family something to look forward to during treatment.
Angela began writing during Levi’s treatment as a way to entertain her young sons. By writing and telling stories, Angela was able to keep her boys busy during their stay at the Ronald McDonald house. Balancing her writing with her career as a paralegal, Angela became a full-time author and has won several awards for her Angus MacBain series. Now, with two major motion pictures completed and two more in progress, Angela hopes that she can use her platform as a way to spread awareness on a big scale.
Angela is giving back to Ronald McDonald houses by donating copies of her award-winning book series to the charity. Angela is using her platform as a way to tell other parents of children with cancer, “My child survived; your child can survive, too.” Angela hopes to continue to grow her platform to raise more awareness for “the Glow” and Retinoblastoma and give back to even more charities that support families who are fighting cancer.