Anya’s Story as told by her parents, Bob & Sandra LaMar
As a parent if you’re told your child has cancer, your breath is momentarily taken away from you. Your mind reels as if you want to faint. Your heart is filled with anguish and crushed in an instant. Your body aches like never before and it’s almost as if you and your child’s life just flashed in front of you.
When the devastating news came to Anya’s family in 2014, Anya was only nine years old. An active child who played softball and danced. Anya’s family never expected to hear she had cancer. Anya has Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone and soft tissue cancer that sneaks up on you.
Her treatment plan included two initial surgeries in preparation for chemo, six rounds of chemo of which the first began only two days after her surgeries, followed by two more surgeries, then eight more rounds of chemo. Her last round of chemo ended in May and was over Mother’s Day weekend. The best gift ever was that she was going home.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. In May 2016, Anya’s cancer came back. Despite being faced with the worst possible scenario, Lending Hearts “continues to be a wonderful support system,” Anya’s family said.
Through Lending Hearts’ free social and emotional expression programs, Anya’s family has connected with other families dealing with similar battles. Lending Hearts hosts programs for children like Anya and their families that stress health, wellness, arts, and culture. In addition, Lending Hearts hosts art therapy programs, as well as leads yoga within the inpatient oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. For the past five years, Lending Hearts has worked to provide social and emotional support to children with cancer and their families. Through the many community events, as well as educational seminars, Lending Hearts was able to provide a community for Anya and her family, and give them a safe space to turn to for added support.
From Lending Hearts:
December 28, 2016, is a day we will hold deep in our hearts. It was the day Anya’s fight against cancer ended, and we gained an angel. Anya was precious, funny, smart, caring and loving child. She was a typical eleven-year-old who loved her dogs, her family, and her friends and just wanted to be in school with the rest of her sixth grade class.
Anya taught us the great need for more assistance in surviving treatment. We believe that the answer is for incorporation of integrative oncology services with holistic wellness programs.