AnnFrances was a beautiful and gentle young woman who loved life. She enjoyed dancing, hanging out at the beach and playing soccer. Sadly, all that changed after her sweet 16th birthday when she developed excruciating pain after feeling a pop in her knee while practicing for a dance competition. Several invasive tests and numerous hospital visits later, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – cancer of the bone.
She was given a 75-80% chance of survival. Her family felt this was a good prognosis, but she had to endure numerous cycles of chemotherapy with surgeries to both her legs and to her lungs; dozens of nights in the hospital away from her beloved brothers and her dear dog. With sheer courage and determination, AnnFrances ploughed through tortuous physiotherapy sessions, injections, chest and arm ports, nausea, weakness, loss of appetite and – worse for a teenage girl – the loss of her hair…but she did it all!
One limb-saving surgery lasted nine hours whereby 17cm of her femur and 16 mm of her tibia were replaced with a titanium rod. Furthermore, a small margin of normal tissue was also removed around the tumour in the hopes of eradicating every possible cancer cell. Surgery was successful. In spite of the gruelling pain, the epidural, the daily painful needles to avoid blood-clotting, the late night visits to the hospital because she was spiking a fever, and the uninterrupted chemotherapy, she was determined to walk again…and she did!
Despite being told she would never dance competitively again, she made it her priority to choreograph and perform in her grade 12 culminating dance performance in front of the student body. She amazed teachers, family, friends and her medical team. Even though she had to take breaks from school for treatment and surgeries, she graduated high school with honours and was very proud of her accomplishments. It was a personal goal to graduate with her peers, class of 2017.
Throughout the three years of AnnFrances’ battle with osteosarcoma, she maintained a positive attitude and took every opportunity to enjoy time with family and dozens of devoted friends. AnnFrances kept her pain to herself because she wanted others around her to be happy. She exuded a tremendous love for life and osteosarcoma couldn’t stop her from enjoying every precious moment in the company of loved ones. Those who were fortunate enough, witnessed her strength and joy to the very end as she danced, sang, laughed and conveyed love for God, family and friends.