||Anna was born Oct. 11, 1988 in Flekkefjord Norway. Anna spent her early years in Chicago. Her many gifts and talents were evident at a young age. At the age of three years old she was singing solos in front of the large congregation of Homewood Full Gospel Church where her grandpa was the Pastor. After moving to Maple Grove, Anna attended Rice Lake Elementary and Maple Grove Jr. High. She loved the Chicago Bears. At the age of two, as her Dad attempted to persuade her to cheer for the Packers, Anna insisted, "No, Chicago Bears!" That passion only grew stronger through the years. . Anna excelled at playing soccer and hockey, her competitive spirit and natural skills always brought about the comment from spectators, "Who is that little blonde girl
Wow!!". She loved being involved in church, her passion for Jesus and her spiritual strength made an impact on every life she touched.
In the early spring of 2001 Anna began having spells where suddenly she was unable to speak. These "partial seizures" became more frequent. On April 23 that same year Anna had an MRI which showed a large mass on the left side of her brain (initially it was unclear whether it was a tumor or something called cortical displacia). Anna began to take medicine to control her seizures, which were progressively getting worse. She had numerous MRIs throughout the year to monitor this "mystery mass". Despite all the medicine, hospital visits and physical challenges, Anna kept playing traveling Soccer and Hockey. Nothing was going to stop her! The end of October, she began having severe headaches and immediately went for an MRI scan. The MRI showed that the mass was growing. Anna was immediately scheduled for brain surgery.
In December of 2001 Anna had major Brain Surgery. In fact, two surgeries within a week. The first was to physically place a grid on the surface of her brain. For three days she went through intensive testing. Attached to this grid were many wires, each wire made contact with different regions of Anna's brain. With numerous wires coming out of her head, the doctors would electronically stimulate each wire one by one. When eloquent (important) regions of Anna's brain were stimulated Anna would lose that function. For example; when her speech region was stimulated, Anna was unable to speak. After all her testing was complete a "map" was made of the left side of her brain (where the tumor was). This would serve as a guide for the nuero surgeon, so that he would avoid the eloquent areas while attempting to remove the tumor.
The second surgery was an attempt to resect the large tumor in Anna's brain. It took over six hours and the results were minimal. Anna was in intensive care for several days following the surgery. It was a pivotal period. Any signs of right side movement, cognitive response or speech were reasons to rejoice. After some time, Anna seemed to move her right leg. Hours later it appeared her right hand was able to move. Not until the second day of recovery was Anna able to speak. The first word she said... "Strawberry". We're not sure why. The only thing we can think of was that the anesthesiologist used strawberry smelling gas to put her to sleep, maybe it was the last word she heard before surgery?
The pathology report from the surgery showed that Anna had antiplastic oligodendroglioma, a malignant brain tumor. These types of tumor have been known to respond to certain chemotherapy treatments, so Anna immediately started chemo. Several months after surgery, Anna, with her determined spirit to fight, hit it hard again. Amazingly she started playing soccer again. her speed and skills had diminished some, but Anna was determined to do her best, as always. Through the year the chemo treatments started to hit Anna hard. She was physically unable to keep up with the lifestyle she so loved. She was unable to attend school and God blessed her with an amazing tutor, Marcia Zeller. Marcia treated Anna like a queen! She always knew how to lift Anna's spirits. Anna's ability to speak diminished rapidly, but Marcia kept encouraging her and helped her to maintain a good self esteem (Anna was an excellent student in high performance classes). Anna, though frustrated with her speech and growing weak on her right side would not give up.
The fall of 2002, her MRI scan showed that the tumor had grown even more. Anna immediately began radiation treatments. Anna's mom, Anita, took her to radiation treatments 5 days a week for several months. From the beginning of Anna's illness, Anita was there for her every moment of the day. Anna was blessed with the most amazing and committed mom that any child could imagine! On February 10th 2003 Anna had another MRI, the news was devastating. Anna was given 2 - 4 weeks to live. Only one other time through this entire ordeal had Anna cried... she was thinking of her family, and that made her sad. her faith in God gave her amazing peace, she knew she was going to go home to be with Jesus in heaven. She slowly grew more tired. Her mom and dad did not leave her side. But she did have one last matter to win (she loved games, competition... and winning!)... The doctor said 4 weeks, Anna lived 4 weeks and one day... Anna wins!
Though the last two years of her life were a tough struggle, Anna never once complained. She ran the race and fought a good fight, and though it's difficult to understand, Anna you are the winner! Anna will be sadly missed by so many who love her dearly. We take comfort in the fact that she is no longer struggling in this life with a brain tumor but is healthy and vibrant in the presence of the Lord. We look forward to the day when we will be reunited in heaven.
Forever in our hearts, forever in the arms of Jesus
Watch the Video "Strawberry Girl"