December 26, 2012 - Anne Maxwell, 24, of Independence Township was receiving treatment for a Ewing's Sarcoma tumor at the University of Michigan when she made a friend.
"My mom (Maggie Maxwell) is a teacher in Walled Lake and one of the secretaries that works at her school has a son that is a research coordinator for pancreatic cancer at U of M," Maxwell said. "Kenny Harthun began visiting me at my chemotherapy treatments, and we have developed a friendship over that time."
She knew Harthun was traveling to Tampa, Fla., to compete in the Tough Mudder race with six of his friends, Tim Esper, Lisa Esper, Nick Muraca, Nikki Muraca, Will Farwell, and Denny Houston.
"What I didn't know was that they were running in honor of me and to help spread awareness of Sarcoma," Maxwell said.
"On Friday, Kenny gave his mom a package to give to my mom to surprise me on Sunday morning – it was a nice surprise, a nice, Sunday morning surprise," she said. "I was really touched."
Inside the package were cards from Harthun and his teammates explaining what they were doing and offering their prayers and support, a jersey saying "Team Anne, Cure Sarcoma," and a letter from the Sarcoma Foundation of America saying they had received a donation in her name.
"Not only had the team donated money in my name, but also the company who printed the jerseys," she said.
The Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile, 25-obstacle race that supports the Wounded Warrior Project.
"But, they also ran for Sarcoma," she said. "Kenny explained in his card that as they were thinking of a way to represent themselves at the race, they were planning on dressing as superheroes, but when they heard about someone their age going through chemo and radiation, they decided to go a different route."
Maxwell was diagnosed with the tumor on May 29.
"I didn't know much about Sarcoma, just that one of my friends had an Osteosarcoma while growing up, and I knew nothing about Ewing's," she said.
When she was diagnosed, she was living in Austin, Texas, and was going to MD Anderson in Houston. She had surgery there as well as her first round of chemotherapy, then moved back to Clarkston in June to be closer to family and friends.
"Annie's prognosis is very good," said Paul Maxwell, her father. "She's quite a fighter, very persistent with a great attitude."
Anne Maxwell has two more weeks of chemotherapy and will be finished on Jan. 10.
"I'm doing pretty good," she said.
She's keeping busy. They made and sold T-shirts to raise funds for Sarcoma research at UM, and she spoke at Health Quest in Clarkston about the benefits of physical therapy for cancer patients. They're also planning other fund raisers for Sarcoma awareness.
"It deserves awareness," she said. "All types of cancer deserve to have awareness spread about them."
Ewing's Sarcoma afflicts about 250 per year, mostly teens and young adults.
"It's a pretty rare tumor," Maxwell said.
She'll decide in March or April whether to move back to Texas or stay here.
"I'll play it by ear," she said. "I plan to relax, enjoy life, and go from there."
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.