During coronation at Vilonia High School Friday afternoon, senior Angela Payne was smiling as she was crowned homecoming queen. The crowd erupted with applause and tears were flowing. It appeared everyone was happy for the teenager who had battled cancer on and off for the past five years.
“God gave her an extra dose of strength and energy for the day,” said Kathy Payne, Angela’s mother. “It’s the first time in a 24-hour period, for several weeks, that she hasn’t been sick.”
Kathy Payne said her daughter’s feeding tube was removed Thursday for the event. While the cancer is in remission, Kathy Payne said, Angela is dealing with the side effects of treatment from the latest bout.
“She can’t gain any weight,” she said. “She’s lost about 50 pounds over the last year and she’s just sick a lot. About a month ago, they put a feeding tube in and it just hasn’t been good.”
Kathy Payne said Angela will be hospitalized again Monday for a few days allowing the nutrition issue to be addressed.
Minutes before the Friday ceremony, Angela was reunited with her brother Robert, who had returned home Afghanistan that morning, serving there for about six months with the 188th Air Guard in Afghanistan.
“It was just one of the best days for our family—Angela was beautiful,” her mother said. “She was so happy. She had the perfect dress. We were so happy. We knew Robert was coming but we didn’t know whether he would make it or not, from Fort Smith, in time for the afternoon crowning. When he made it, things just couldn’t have been better.”