Go Team Ayla!

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Straughn students show their support for Ayla Powers with bracelets. Shown are Nelson Allen, Katilyn Williams, Courtney Lassiter, Catherine Tran, AJ Barnes and Kyle Lee. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Things are looking up for a local woman who has been battling germ cell ovarian cancer for the past few months, and her alma mater held a blood drive in her honor yesterday.

Twenty-year-old Ayla Powers is undergoing treatment in Mobile Infirmary for the cancer, which had metastasized in her liver.

Best friend Rebecca Cory said Tuesday Powers had been moved from surgical intensive care to medical intensive care, and on Tuesday evening doctors moved her to a the oncology hall at Mobile Infirmary in the next few days.

“They took her trach out and sewed up the hole (on Monday),” she said. “She is now off the ventilator and is making great progress.”

Doctors originally found Powers’ cancer after she complained for nearly three months that her stomach was hurting. Once an ultrasound was performed, it was discovered that her uterus was four times the size it was supposed to be, and a specialist found a football-sized mass that stretched from Powers’ ribs to her pelvic bone.

While germ cell ovarian cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancers, Powers has suffered numerous complications.

“They said they’d hit her hard with chemo, and she’d be good,” Cory said. “They had to wait three to four weeks after surgery to start chemo to get her blood count up.”

Then, it metastasized to her liver and she became septic.

Cory said with the progress she’s made in the last weeks has allowed Powers to take five or six chemo treatments.

She is a 2009 graduate of Straughn High School and graduated with a degree in business from LBW, where she was an ambassador. She was employed at MSJ Trucking before she was diagnosed with cancer, and MSJ officials said Wednesday they are holding her position open for her when she is able to work again.

She is the daughter of John Powers, a local wildlife biologist.

The Straughn High School family rallied together to donate blood in her honor Tuesday.

The school had 85 people donate or try to donate blood by 4 p.m. and were expecting 100 by 6 p.m.

Official totals weren’t available when the Star-News went to press.

Cory said Powers has needed an abundance of blood after her surgeries, and to help get her platelet counts up.

Cory said she was proud her alma mater had rallied to help and honor her friend.

SHS English teacher Debbie Parrish, who was very close to Powers as a student and remains in touch with her, said she thinks “it’s great (for the student body) to get behind (Powers).”

Parrish said she was fortunate to have Powers for three class periods her senior year – in English class, yearbook and as her teacher’s aide.

“I love her so much,” she said. “She was the type of person who could see what had to be done and do it. She is vivacious and energetic and full of life.”

Parrish said she found out about the illness through Cory.

“I was in disbelief,” she said. “She was the last person I would have dreamed would be sick, but I knew if anyone could beat it, she could. I pray for her, Birge and her dad, and I think about her at least once a day.”