ANNA'S HEDGEHOG HEROES
Anna fought this terrible disease for too long with her mother, Claudia, and younger sister, Kate, by her side. As written by a dear friend of her mother, Anna's story will always one of determination and amazing strength:
"In August 2014, 9 year old Anna Kitada was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. After a very busy summer of playing soccer, swimming, running and enjoying summer camp she experienced swelling in her right leg above the knee. A seemingly healthy Anna had a large tumor in her right femur and cancer in her lungs. She quickly began an aggressive course treatment of chemotherapy, which she endured with amazing courage. On December 1st (2014), Anna underwent surgery to remove the tumor in her femur. She had a very unique surgery called rotationplasty which will allow her continue her active lifestyle after recovery."
Her mother spent countless time working, caring for her two daughters, and visiting the top Pediatric Oncologists around the country to try to find a cure for the cancer that remained in Anna's lungs.
In early 2017, mom Claudia wrote:
"Hi all, wanted to give everyone an update. We are still waiting for approval from the FDA to start the new drug for Anna. The FDA approval is 2 parts (which I didn't fully understand til this week)
One part is can she be administered the drug, which is not FDA approved in the US. That part was approved about 2 weeks ago. The other part has to do with billing... can the hospital purchase the drug and/or charge our insurance. Which if approved by the FDA, our insurance may ...still deny it, but we'll cross that $100K bridge when we get to it! This part we are still waiting for a decision. Apparently they have up to 30 days from the original application date to decide. That would be the end of this coming week. Other families have been approved so I'm hopeful the answer will be yes but the delay is distressing. I don't understand the logic in this process but I'm trying to remain calm.
Once approved, it still needs to be ordered and shipped from overseas and checked by the Hasbro pharmacy before being given to Anna. Another family I read about getting the drug had their shipment help up in customs for a while too!
Since Anna hasn't had any chemotherapy for more than a month her docs have decided it would be wise to do a round of chemo to hopefully keep those nasty cells in check. We've decided on a chemo she's handled fairly well in the past but it requires a few days inpatient. With high doses methotrexate she's given the chemo then has to stay inpatient until the level of the drug in her blood drops below a specific number. Typically this was 3-4 days.
So Monday after school we'll head down to Hasbro to get admitted and hope she handles it well and we are home asap! Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers this week. Praying for a positive reply from the FDA and an easy week with side effects."
A few weeks later, Mom reported that the drug was welcomed into Hasbro. Sadly, however, it was not effective in treating Anna's cancer. In mid-May, Mom posted this update:
"I've been carrying some news around since Friday and wasn't sure how to say it so I'm just going to say it: The new medicine is not working.
Anna had a CT Scan on Friday because she's coughed up 2 solid "things" this past week. Pathology says the are tumors or pieces of a tumor. She feels fine and has no new symptoms.
The CT scan showed a new tumor that was not on her scans 6 weeks ago and a couple of the existing tumors have grown so it's time for a new plan.
When she was on some of more standard chemos for osteosarcoma her lungs remained stable with no new growth. We are going to do at least one cycle of one of the chemos she had in the past with the hope of stopping the progression while we decide on the next best treatment. This will mean a full PET scan tomorrow then 5 days in patient to receive chemo. This also means time away from our Kate, Grandma and friends as well as losing her fuzzy head of hair, low blood counts and possible more hospital time if she spikes a fever.
Needless to say we are sad, mad and scared but ready to find the next step. Please continue to keep us in your prayers!!"
Anna fought hard to beat her cancer but it proved too powerful for her little body. She passed away on May 26, 2018 with her loving family at her side.