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St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway: Teen cancer patient shares story of survival

Updated: Jul. 18, 2018 at 6:43 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For more than a week we talked about Thursday being the big day when tickets go on sale to win the 2018 St. Jude Dream Home.

It's exciting to know you could win a brand new house! Buying a ticket to win the St. Jude Dream Home also means you're making a difference for young patients fighting cancer right now - like Anna. WBTV's Christine Sperow visited Anna at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"She said to me there's no doubt. There's no doubt. there's nothing else this can be," says Jane, who is Anna's mom.

"We were really shocked. It didn't really resonate until we were [at St. Jude]," Anna says.

Recalling this day still seems surreal for Anna and her mom. Getting bad news never has good timing. Anna was diagnosed with cancer the week after homecoming and right before another major milestone for any teenager.

"Her Sweet 16 was coming up and there is this college campus that has this fantastic party room. So we actually went there to check it out for her Sweet 16 and we got the call and they told me she had Leukemia," Jane said.

The cancer was Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a cancer in the blood.

"The oncologist just told us this probably means six to eight months at St. Jude. It's going to be a tough treatment because it's going to be a very aggressive form of Leukemia," said Anna.

When doctors said Anna had to be up for a tough fight, they meant it. Her AML was treated with chemotherapy which resulted in spending 100 days in the ICU.

"She had chemo that was complicated by an infection. Then she got septic which was a terrible, terrible infection. She had to be, you know, on life support," Jane said.

While St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is considered one of the world's premier treatment centers for Leukemia, we often hear about its overall care for not only the patients - but also for family members.

No family receives a bill from St. Jude for housing, food or treatment, which is something that's a huge relief especially when you want to focus on getting your child well.

"I mean the medical bills alone would have financially ruined us," said Jane.

"There's a lot of people outside the medical side that help support and that's really what made the difference for us," Anna adds.

At this point Anna has finished all her chemotherapy but there was one task left unfinished...

"Child Life at St. Jude also helped us with my Sweet 16. The Target House let us have it in their brand new dining room, which was actually designed by Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper," Anna said. "It was very, very special. We had an amazing time."

"We thought there were going to be 20 kids and there were 50 and it was a blast!," said Jane.

St. Jude is pushing to increase the child cancer survival rate to over 90 percent so there are more stories to tell like Anna's beating cancer and one day finding a cure.

It's why so many of you already are saying you're reserving a ticket for our Dream Home Giveaway to raise money for St. Jude.

Watch WBTV News first thing Thursday morning and we'll have the number you can call so you can get your tickets before they sellout.

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