Anna Hanger was an extraordinary young woman, wise beyond her years and generous beyond words. In June 2003, Anna was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her treatment was long and hard, and she suffered many complications which caused her to be hospitalized for the better part of a year. While she achieved remission in 2004, it was short lived, and her cancer returned just months later. Doctors told her family there was no further treatment for Anna and urged her parents to quickly take a Make-A-Wish trip due to Anna’s poor prognosis and their concern that her quality of life would begin to decline quickly.
Anna and her parents did take a “final” trip. Anna was scheduled to have surgery two days after they returned. Prior to surgery Anna had an MRI. With tears in her eyes, Anna’s doctor shared the incredible results: Anna’s tumor was shrinking. Anna’s tumor continued to shrink over the next year and for many years, Anna remained cancer-free, although the brain cancer took a toll, and Anna faced many challenges in her young life. In June 2019, Anna’s cancer returned, and she passed away in August 2020.
No one would have blamed her if Anna became sad and angry as a result of her limitations and very serious challenges caused by the brain cancer and treatment. But that just wasn’t Anna. From the time she was diagnosed and received an outpouring of love and support, including gifts and cards from family and friends, Anna became very aware of the other children at the hospital who were not getting the same kind of support. It touched Anna deeply and was very hard for her to accept. In spite of the fact that Anna was almost completely deaf, had severe scoliosis from radiation treatments, significant balance issues, loss of feeling on one side of her face, and many other permanent disabilities, she became obsessed with finding a way to help the other children with cancer.