Ada, Oklahoma
Serving Ada since 1904

Ada trio featured on national TV program
By LEO KELLEY/Staff writer
August 17, 2000

ADA - While taking graduate classes at East Central University in 1995, two Ada women - Nancy Allen and Billy McGowen - met for the first time. Saturday, the pair and Nancy's husband, Arnold, will be featured on national television. "Beyond Chance," a program on the Lifetime TV channel, airs their remarkable human interest story at 9 p.m. The weekly episodes focus on stories hard to explain with human logic.

After Nancy and Billy began their friendship in 1995, Nancy learned her new friend had experienced many rejections in life since suffering a childhood brain injury that caused epilepsy. "I had suffered seizures since I was 10 months old," Billy said. "I probably averaged between three and five seizures a month. However, I was getting worse - where I couldn't remember anything."In April 1999, Billy was scheduled for surgery to remove a part of the right temporal lobe of the 46-year-old's brain. Although she had to miss celebrating her ninth wedding anniversary with her husband, Nancy, who is a licensed practical nurse, accompanied Billy to Presbyterian Hospital, where Dr. Paul Francel, an Oklahoma City neurosurgeon, performed a successful procedure.

While Billy's operation was a total success, Nancy and Arnold had problems of their own to face. In March 1999, Arnold was diagnosed with a recurrence of a cavernous sinus, benign brain tumor, which extended from the right temporal lobe area through the brain to near the brain stem. He had undergone surgery in 1992, but the tumor had not been completely removed. His condition was termed "inoperable" by several doctors.  "During the time Billy was recovering in May 1999, my husband and I struggled to figure out what we should do, if anything, about his frightening condition," Nancy later wrote in her story submitted to producers of the weekly Lifetime Television program." As his (Arnold's) condition looked more and more dismal, I thought back to the bright young surgeon, Dr. Francel, who had operated on my friend Billy. I read several Web pages on the Internet about Dr. Francel and was amazed to learn of his extensive experience and education."After she contacted the neurosurgeon, he told her that Arnold might be a candidate for Gamma knife surgery. However, Francel determined that Arnold's large tumor had to be surgically removed. On Aug. 17, 1999 - exactly one year ago - Arnold's delicate operation was completed and the tumor was totally removed. Remarkably, the patient was able to play tennis the following weekend after dismissal from the hospital.

During the past year, Arnold Allen and Billy McGowen have completely recovered. Billy has not suffered any seizures since her surgery and is employed, helping mentally challenged persons. Five weeks after his surgery, Arnold returned to his job with BancTec of Oklahoma City. Nancy is employed at Pontotoc County Extension office in Ada. Nancy, Arnold and Billy are all graduates of ECU."

I would like to say that Dr. Paul Francel, besides being a brilliant surgeon, is a wonderful Christian man who is one of the most caring, thoughtful persons we have ever met," Nancy said."He has become a treasured family friend. He said that he always becomes very close with his patients for life, because one can never get any closer to another person than being inside their brain. That is who they are! Dr. Francel is our hero! "Ironically, Nancy's friendship with Billy saved her husband's life. Had she not been there for her friend, she never would have discovered Dr. Paul Francel, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He was the only surgeon in Oklahoma fully qualified and trained at the time to remove Arnold's tumor, Nancy said. Certainly, the Ada story is perfect for "Beyond Chance." Don't miss the entire episode which airs Saturday on the Lifetime TV channel at 9 p.m.

©The Ada Evening News 2000

Note:  this is a simulation of the original article in the newspaper.

Thanks to the Ada Evening News in Ada, Oklahoma