Brooklyn Park Girl’s Leukemia Battle Turns into Medical Whirlwind
Recurring bouts of leukemia gave 11-year-old Anja Foard little chance to live. Doctors sent the Brooklyn Park girl home after doing what they could for her. Now, not only is she defying the odds, she’s making amazing strides.
On Monday, Anja listened to music on her computer, moving her head to the beat. The lighthearted moment almost didn’t happen. Anja was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of blood cancer, in December 2014. She spent three years on chemo, only to have the cancer return.
The leukemia then spread to Anja’s head and affected her vision. She was given chemo twice a week directly into her spine. However, the strong medicine damaged her brain, putting Anja in a coma.
“When the brain scans came back, it didn’t show a brain anymore. It literally just showed this white blob,” explained Jeffrey Alvord, Anja’s stepdad.
So besides the cancer, the family had to deal with a comatose child. The devastating development hurt to the core.
“I love this child like my own, and you know, I’m sitting in disbelief, wondering how does this happen?” said Alvord.
“It’s belief. It’s prayer.”
Anja eventually woke up but with very little brain function. Doctors sent her home with a grim prognosis. The family went home and made funeral plans.
“She just mean everything to me. I was saying, if I lost my child, I don’t want to live again,” said Meiqi Zhang, Anja’s mother.
Remarkably, Anja did survive. Her family says it’s a miracle and a gift from God.
“It’s belief. It’s prayer,” said Alvord.
Slowly, Anja started making progress, improving her motor skills. Some of her dexterity in her fingers returned. She’s now able to point and make other gestures. But she can’t walk, eat or talk much. However she can say “mama” and “I love you.”
“We see amazing new things.”
While Anja’s cancer took away many things, the disease couldn’t remove her ability to smile. Her face lights up when her two cats walk through the room. Thought the cancer remains, her family is hopeful.
“Every couple of days, we see amazing new things,” said Alvord.
The goal is to get Anja in remission so she can get a bone marrow transplant. The family also has a GoFundMe page to offset medical costs.