Evansville woman fights extremely rare cancer, needs transplant

A young Evansville woman is on the organ transplant list waiting for a new liver. After a nine year remission, her cancer has returned. A type of cancer so rare, she is only person in the world who is thought to have it.

The cancer usually strikes the legs and arms and rarely the head, neck and abdomen, but never in the liver until her case.

Sharp pains near her abdomen have landed 25-year-old Angel Dean in the hospital, again. She's spent a lot of time in them since 1998. That's when she found a knot in her side.

Evelyn Dean, Angel's mom, recalls, "She was 16. I thought, you don't have a knot in your side. She turned around and held up her arms and made me feel it, and that was exactly 4:11 in the afternoon."

She remembers the exact time because it changed their lives forever. Doctors removed a tumor the size of a soccer ball from Angel's liver. What was even more shocking was the diagnosis.

Evelyn says, "It was Spindle Cell Synovial Cell Sarcoma."

Synovial tissue is found in the cavities of the joints, so for the cells to show up in Angel's liver was extremely rare, so rare that the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Institute of Pathology had no other reported cases.

Mom took the news the hardest. "Helpless, helpless."

Angel describes, "Her reaction was kind of for the both of us because I was just like, kind of like, 'What?'"

The tumor was gone, but over the years, the remaining liver damage would leave her with episodes of vomiting blood, jaundice and feeling lightheaded and confused. The latest news is the cancer is back, and she will need a liver transplant.

"I still feel helpless, like now, because there is nothing I can do except ask for help," says Evelyn.

She's asking the public for help in paying Angel's medical bills, which have exceeded $100,000, and a liver transplant will mean more bills. Plus, there's another price to pay.

"In order to get a liver transplant, you have to be on your death bed. Well, my fear is we're getting closer and closer," says Evelyn.

You can help by dining at Hacienda on First Avenue on February 25. The restaurant will donate 20 percent of its sales on that day only. Or, you can make a donation at any Old National Bank to the account of "Angel Dean."