Anna's story: Asbury five-year-old beating cancer - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Anna's story: Asbury 5-year-old beating cancer

Anna may be done with her cancer treatments by the end of 2011 Anna may be done with her cancer treatments by the end of 2011
Anna, from her CarePages site Anna, from her CarePages site

After more than 100 trips to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital and $15,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, the Weitz family in Asbury is facing a second December of chemotherapy.

Through the support of loved ones, however, this family has never lost hope.

In November 2010, doctors diagnosed Anna Weitz, now five, with a rare and aggressive cancer.

"It started in her hand, in her right hand. It's called Rhabdomyosarcoma. It's a soft tissue cancer," Anna's mom Krista Weitz said. "Unfortunately, it spread to her bone marrow and many of her bones and a few nodules on her lungs."

The cancer was stage four.

"When they said the word cancer, it's just-- that was the lowest point," Anna's dad Mike Weitz said. "Finding out that it was very serious and that it spread so, that's when, you know, you just felt drained and wiped out, and we couldn't believe this was happening."

Like most five-year-olds, Anna is learning to read and enjoys playing with her older brothers, six-year-old John and 10-year-old Noah.

Unlike other kids her age, however, Anna has undergone months of medical procedures, such a chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

A long strong of beads tells the difficult story of Anna's journey to recovery.

"Each bead represents a different procedure or something yucky she had to have done," Anna's mom said, holding up the several-yards-long string.

This Christmas, however, the best gift isn't one that's under the tree.

"Her last three scans have showed no cancer," Krista Weitz said. "They've considered her in remission."

However, Weitz said, family members cannot yet breathe easy.

"There's a very high risk for a relapse, so we're praying that that won't happen and that she's done and that she's totally beat it," Krista Weitz said, "but we really won't know for five more years."

For the moment, however, as Anna rolled around on the living room carpet Thursday evening, playing with her brothers and parents, it would seem her most significant condition is a serious case of the giggles.

"I can't believe how generous people are," Mike Weitz said.

Loved ones raised more than enough money to cover the family's travel expenses and co-pays.

Krista Weitz said any leftover money will be set aside for Anna's future medical expenses. She said, after all her daughter's difficult treatments, Anna may face problems later in life such as stunted growth or infertility.

Krista and Mike Weitz said the family couldn't get through the past 13 months without the love, support and prayers of friends and family members.

Anna faces her final six doses of chemotherapy, beginning this week. Her parents said, if all goes well, Anna's treatment will be complete by 2012.

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