LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Lakewood pre-kindergarten teacher and single mother of two children is facing hardships after her young son was diagnosed with a rare medical condition.
Like most single parents, Annie Principali does the best she can to provide for her two children, 12-year-old Thayne and 17-year-old Makenzie.
Back in November, she noticed her son's face looked swollen on the left side. She took Thayne to the dentist right away.
At first, the dentist thought it was an abscessed tooth. But after seeing a few different doctors and getting CT scans, doctors found two benign tumors.
It was a rare case of juvenile active ossifying fibroma. Principali said one tumor was about the size of a lime, and the other was around the size of a marble.
Principali said she was relieved to hear it was not cancerous but was told by the doctor that they'd face a long road of surgeries.
Thayne just had his first surgery to remove the tumors about a week ago.
"It went up into his sinus cavity. He does have a hole about the size of a diamond in his sinus right now. And they took that out and then they took two teeth out," Principali said.
Once he recovers from that surgery, he'll need another. The second surgery will be to reconstruct his face by taking bone from his hip or leg and graphing it to his jaw.
She said all of this has caused both emotional and financial strains.
"The hardest thing right now is my time. Money is also [a problem]. Our bills, rent, and his medication," she said.
Principali is the main provider for her two children as well as her mother, who also lives with them.
Thayne said he's grateful his mom has been by his side through it all.
"It does mean a lot to me," Principali said. "It's been crazy for him he's strong. He really is."
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