When (now) 16-year-old Anna Grace was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2020, in some ways everything changed. Her family faced being apart from each other often. One parent would drive to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for weekly chemotherapy, staying sometimes for 5 nights, sometimes for 2 nights. In other ways, life continued. Anna Grace constantly reminded her family that she was still the same studious and fun-loving 14 year old, delighting in laughing, playing with her siblings and friends, and not wanting to get behind in school. The family were grieving the things that had changed because of cancer, and the hard things their daughter needed to endure with surgeries and 18 rounds of chemotherapy. At the same time, they say that they “found out quickly that cancer also opened our eyes to see things we would have otherwise missed; quiet days at home as a family, compassion in strangers, and the beautiful world we get to live in. We started learning to not take the simple things for granted.”
Anna Grace’s mom says, “I found my husband and I grieved differently, and he and I would be able to help each other through the hard days, crying on each other’s shoulders. We tried to check in with our three other children and found bedtime talks and little dates were the perfect thing to listen to how they were feeling. One blessing through all the sadness was our family’s relationships strengthened.”
When asked what advice they would have for a newly diagnosed family, they said:
“Take it one day at a time. Let yourself fully feel the sadness and grief. Look for the blessings. Laugh and play with your kids- it really is healing. Pray.”
Most of the Pelson family attended Camp Outside the Box in 2020, while mom and Anna Grace were away for treatment. This year, the whole family was busy moving their son into his college dorm room. They still sent us a picture of themselves in their camp tee shirts to let us know we were with us in spirit.