Kids Cancer Tree's campfire chat with Anna O'Connor
Kids Cancer Tree's Star Angel,  Anna O'Connor.  She was one of our finest members who at times stood above all others. But she also is humble, giving all the credit to our Lord God. This is the transcript of the interview I did with her.
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 9:40 PM the world lost a very special person. Anna O'Connor passed away with her family at her side. Anna was inspirational to many.  For me following her battle with Neuroblastoma touched me directly in a personal manner because I am going through the same maze  Neuroblastoma is so good at putting one up. This 'highway' Anna and I travel on is very rough, but there were rest stops along the way  and it had it's joy. At times sorrowful, yet sometimes energetic, barren, yet fruitful.  Anna is loved by many people. She will be one person I shall never forget. She will now watch over the rest of us with Neuroblastoma, and she will watch over her family. Below is the transcript of an interview I did with Anna a few years ago for the Kids Cancer Tree. I will leave it posted here as long as this website is running. Anna's warm glow of kindness will continue to light the path ahead keeping the darkness in check. God blessed you, and you've blessed all of us. Good bye Anna.

           RAY: When facing Cancer, to me I found suddenly everything was serious. Did  you experience this and did it force you to grow                    up much faster?

           ANNA: Having cancer definitely made me grow up faster. It really showed me what was important in life and in seeing those things                  I did not want to waste my time with things that really did not matter in the long run such as the normal teenage things as my                          appearance or worrying about having a boyfriend or gossiping. Because of this i often felt left out with some of my friends because I didn't really want to participate in what they were talking about. I also grew up much faster because i had to worry about things such             as dying which a lot of people don't have to face until much older and it made me much more pensive and introspective then i use to be.

RAY:   Do you ever feel alone or isolated because of what it takes to fight cancer?

ANNA:   I often feel alone and isolated because of cancer because i am the only one i know that lives around me that has to face cancer at my age. I don't feel like i can talk to people about cancer who don't have it because they can't understand the way someone who has had cancer can. I have a friend who is my age that lives in Minnesota with Neuroblastoma and one that lives in Canada and so I talk to them and that helps because we can talk about the same cancer treatments we have been on, and about things like life and death and pain that most people don't understand.

RAY: Do you ever use your power of imagination to help fight cancer, for  example, I used to imagine the chemo was modern day Fully equipped American 101st Airborne special forces going back in time to rescue the Spartans at  Thermopylae. What Image do you use if any?

ANNA:  When I was on monoclonal antibody treatment in New York I use to be in so much      pain that I had to try a meditative therapy so i would listen to this tape and someone would talk telling me to imagine myself swimming with each stroke one, two, one, two and this would help me breath to the strokes. I have also thought before that me having cancer was OK because in this way i was the one to get cancer and not my sisters or brother, so that would help me fight cancer because i would fight instead of them.

RAY:   When you began this war on cancer, did you already have a career > choice?

ANNA:  I didn't have a career choice at the time, but i thought i might want to go into math.

RAY:   Did cancer make you change or alter what career you strive for?

ANNA: Cancer made me sure that i wanted to go work in a hospital or some sort of health care field because i really enjoy being around people who are hurting and helping them out. Right now i am in radiation therapy school so that i can deliver radiation to people with cancer and help cure them.

RAY:   What is your favorite place on Earth?

ANNA: My favorite place on earth is my bed at home.

RAY:  In my case, many good things came from my war with cancer, people I met
became my friends, if I did not have the cancer I would have never met these
people, Not including Doctors or other medical personal, have you met and
became friends with people that you probably would not have met ?

ANNA: I have met a lot of amazing people through camps and cancer online communities. I have those two best friends who I mentioned before and I have talked to several people who have cancer who are a similar age either on the phone or through e-m

RAY: Is there anything good that has entered your life because of cancer?

ANNA:  I think just my attitude towards life in general is definitely better because of cancer. I appreciate life so much more because of the hard times. When I get frustrated and down about something I think back to the times when I was in so much pain, and all of the sudden my problems are silly and ridiculous. I also approach life differently because I want to seize life and enjoy everyday.

RAY:   Heroes, do you have any new Heroes, either real or mythological?

ANNA:  I met a little boy in the hospital doing monoclonal antibodies named Carl who was 4 who I really admired for his fun spirit. We use to play trucks on his bed every morning for two weeks waiting for our medicine. He enjoyed every moment of his life and celebrated everything God gave him, from his ability to run around to a simple balloon we spent hours playing with. He never complained and he is my hero.

RAY:   Has anyone told you, that they consider you their Hero?

ANNA:  Many people have told me this but I haven't done anything. I am very weak and all my strength comes from God.

RAY: Do you find yourself getting involved with issues or helping more
people that you probably would not have been involved with before your
battle began?

ANNA:  I definitely have helped more people since having cancer. I have spoken at several places and I have helped raise lots of money for neuroblastoma and kids cancer research. I am not really involved with many issues except for cancer advocation, which I was never really a part of before cancer.

RAY:   Did you get a 'Make-A-Wish' and what was it?

ANNA:  I went to New Zealand with my family last Christmas for ten days. It was gorgeous!!!! I saw some of the Lord of the Rings sights and enjoyed the beauty of the mountains and the amazing scenery.

RAY:   Did you ever consider just giving up?

ANNA:  I definitely have considered not trying as hard in life as I have. I graduated college in four years all through cancer treatment and now I am in an intense one-year program in Radiation Therapy. I get really tired and I have considered taking time off from school and work, but I have never considered giving up from my cancer treatment. I know if God wants me cured he will cure me. When I went through the intense treatments, there were a few times I would have been more than content to die and be with God in heaven. I don't consider that giving up though, because I will never give up on God and his plan for me and that's the one thing I would never give up on.

RAY: OK, this question is directed at your Younger sister Kelly, Has Kelly been able to learn from this, has she found any new strengths she can apply in her life?

ANNA:: Kelly says that she has learned from me how to try to have fun every day.

RAY: Have your siblings made it easier or harder to deal with this?

ANNA:  My siblings have definitely made it easier to deal with this because they are home and help me when I am not feeling good. They will make me soup or fetch me water. We also watch movies and they will indulge me and play games with me. Sometimes it's a little harder to see them just because they make me wonder what it would have been like to not have to worry about cancer.

RAY:   What have you done to allow yourself to have fun through this?

ANNA:   I don't worry about getting straight A's anymore like I did in high school. Because of this I enjoy myself and will go out with friends more than I use to. Also, I take lots of trips and jump at any opportunity to visit people.

RAY:   What totally outrageous thing have you done, or wish to do?

ANNA:   I haven't really done anything outrageous. I guess the closest would be when I was invited to spend the weekend in the Bahamas with some friends on the weekend right before finals week. I said "Yes," of course, and just took my books with me to study on the beach.

RAY:   OK now we have reached the final question, Why 'Banana'?

ANNA: When I was little, people called me Anna Banana. Then, when I was first admitted in the hospital, a nurse started calling me Anna Banana and it stuck ever since.

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