HOUSTON – A 16-year-old girl who was once given three months to live is expressing gratitude for a Texas congressman and family friend who helped pave the way for her survival.
Anni Wan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that doctors in China did not know how to treat.
“She was given a diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a fairly rare diagnosis,” said M.D. Anderson Assistant Professor Winston Huh.
Anni got a death sentence when she got cancer and second and third opinions in her home country of China confirmed it.
“The same result is no hope,” said Xu Ling, her mother.
But her mom’s co-worker, who lives in Chung Ching, China producing documentaries, is from Texas. And he had a wild idea to get Anni to M.D. Anderson in Houston.
“When I left China, I promised her grandfather I’d bring her home healthy,” said Michael Blair, the family’s host.
When they got here, doctors said Anni’s road would be rough.
“Because her cancer was localized in a very critical part of her head, she couldn’t get surgery, so it was mainly chemotherapy and radiation therapy and pretty intense chemotherapy,” Huh said. “Which is not easy.”
While they dealt with the cancer, a group called The Open Arms got them an apartment; someone else gave them a car, but then came threats of deportation.
“Her visa was running out and we had applied for the extension of the visa and the department of immigration, I had to submit the paperwork three times,” Blair said.
At the last minute they called Congressman Kevin Brady.
“And in a week, we had the visa extension and now when we go home she’s going home healthy,” Blair said.
After being allowed to stay and complete her treatments Anni is now cancer-free.
“I feel very, very excited,” Anni said.
Her hospital bill is $350,000 and an anonymous benefactor has paid $200,000 of it.
Another benefactor insisted the Chinese teen have some fun.
“[He] demanded that the money he donated to us be used for travel for her to see America,” Blair said.
So Anni got to travel to D.C., New York, Philly, Denver and the Grand Canyon.
“I got some good friends in America,” Anni said.
A teenager, who was given only months to live, is now preparing to go back to China full of hope, life and love for America.
“America is a wonderful country,” Anni said.