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Annika Knudson

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Hometown: Lawrence, KS

Type of cancer: Burkitt's Lymphoma

Diagnosed: February 2009

Hospital(s): Children's Mercy Hospital, KCMO

Siblings: Kristofer

Pets: Winkie and Maizy -- two cats

In 2009, at eleven years old, Annika was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma on her dad's birthday. A few days before, we had taken her to our local ER due to extreme stomach pains and dehydration from what was suspected to be a stomach-bug. The ER doc opted to do a CT to rule out appendicitis and discovered instead an intestinal intussusception which would require laparoscopic treatment at the children's hospital in Kansas City.

Annika travelled to Children's Mercy by ambulance, and we settled into the ER to wait until the surgeons could fit her procedure into the schedule. 16 hours later during the procedure, Annika's surgeon discovered that the real problem was a tumor, lymphoma, and began emergency surgery to excise the mass. Pathology later determined it to be Burkitt's lymphoma, known for tumors which can double in size within 24 hours.

Our lives changed dramatically with that discovery, and Annika's treatment began. She was lucky that the tumor was found so early and had not metastasized. But, as Annika and her friends will tell you, NO CHILD who undergoes cancer treatment is lucky! Annika endured toxic meds to kill the beast that wanted to leave it's mark. She lost her hair, she lost a dangerous amount of weight, she struggled with depression. As a survivor, she continues to deal with health and emotional issues as a result of her treatment. Having to deal with her mortality at a very young age -- it is not the kind of reality check we would have asked for our child.

In May 2012 Annika will be officially three years cancer free. She is eager to continue to leave cancer behind her, and is forging ahead as a creative, loving young adult! We are grateful to Braden's Hope for their efforts to bring awareness to childhood cancer, and for their commitment to funding much needed research.

Parents: to make changes to your child's story, please e-mail us.

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