Published on April 24, 2019

Brandywine Hospital Patient Angela Tekely – Her Story About Overcoming Stroke and Surviving Breast Cancer

On December 13, 2017, Angela Tekely was found on the floor of her home having a stroke; she was immediately rushed to Brandywine Hospital. A stroke was especially surprising as Angela was young and fit - she had just turned 39 years old, and had recently run the Philadelphia Marathon.

The Emergency Department team at Brandywine Hospital quickly confirmed that Angela was having a stroke, administered tPA, and determined she needed a higher level of care than was available at Brandywine. Angela was transported by helicopter to another hospital, where she underwent surgery to remove the blood clot in the left side of her brain.

Next came months of occupational, physical, and speech rehabilitation, where Angela worked to regain use of her hand and her speech, and later returned to work full-time. Angela credits Brandywine Hospital's expert assessment and quick action for her recovery from her stroke with very few residual effects.

Through the process of determining the cause of the stroke, it was identified that Angela has a small hole in her heart. Before closing the hole, her heart needed to be monitored for atrial fibrillation. In January 2018, a small monitor was installed.

In February, 2018, two short months after her stroke, Angela found a mass on her left breast. She returned to Brandywine Hospital - this time to the Women's Imaging Center - for a biopsy, which unfortunately revealed Angela had breast cancer. After learning this diagnosis, she had to undergo another surgery to remove the monitor.

Angela met with Brandywine Hospital surgeon Susan Sees, MD, whom Angela describes as a skilled and caring surgeon. "Especially after hearing Angela's story, the last thing I wanted to do was add to her list of diagnoses, but her family history had already raised my suspicion that this lump was going to be cancer," said Dr. Sees. Angela and Dr. Sees discussed the options and determined that, based on her age and family history, Angela would undergo a double mastectomy.

"Once we knew it was cancer, we sat down and reviewed all the information and the options for treatment, including the pros and cons of each option, and the impact each option might have on different aspects of her life. She took good notes and asked great questions. Despite yet another medical hurdle in front of her, Angela faced it with thoughtfulness and optimism, every step of the way," said Dr. Sees.

Two brief months after her stroke and while still recovering, Angela had a double mastectomy. Her surgery went beautifully. Dr. Sees referred Angela to Laura Gowen, MD, Brandywine Hospital plastic surgeon, who guided Angela in the reconstruction process.

"Angela is a remarkable patient who endured two very significant medical issues within just a few months, at only 39 years old. I was impressed every day by her continual positive attitude and perseverance," Dr. Gowen stated. "It was a pleasure to participate in her care, as it is in the care of all breast cancer patients. I am grateful that these women put their in trust me to restore their bodies after breast cancer surgery. Each woman's journey is unique and nothing makes me happier than assisting them in completing this process successfully."

"The hospital has some of the best doctors, such as Drs. Sees and Gowen, and the best nurses, and staff I have ever met" Angela said, noting that "I am confident I'm making an accurate assessment as I have been in five hospitals in the past six months."

Today Angela is back to working full time, training for her next race, and enjoying time with her husband, Brad and 6 year old son, Carter. "I credit Brandywine Hospital and its phenomenal team of professionals for saving my life-twice. Thank you for your excellent, remarkable care," said Angela.