Omaha Woman, 20, Dies from Rare Brain Cancer After Spreading Awareness: 'She Wanted to Be Part of a Cure'
One young woman's health journey inspired her to become an activist for people living with brain tumors before she died earlier this month at age 20.
Three years ago, Anjalie Bartee of Omaha, Nebraska, was starting her senior year of high school when she was diagnosed with a highly-aggressive stage 4 brain tumor — diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma — according to NBC affiliate WOWT.
"It was hard like a ton of bricks when [it's] something you would never expect to hear," Anjalie's father Albert told the outlet.
Doctors told Anjalie she only had a short time to live — up to a year — but she immediately underwent treatment for the disease, including chemo and radiation. She also wanted to take part in a new drug trial.
"She got into a trial and then she ended up doing really well for like two and a half years," her mother Barbara told ABC affiliate KETV. And even though the trial required travel to Michigan and some painful procedures, Anjalie never hesitated.
"She was required to do like three lumbar punctures, but it helped research, so she did one every time we went to Michigan," Barbara said, according to the outlet.
Anjalie hoped that the lumbar punctures — also known as spinal taps — would help aid in research about the disease, her father told KETV.
"She wanted to be a part of a cure," he said.
"She didn't just think about herself," Albert told WOWT. "She was willing to go over and beyond for another person. That's why if they asked her if she would do extra things in the trial study, she would. She was always willing to go the extra step."
"She didn't let cancer define her," Barbara added to WOWT. "Her walk through her struggle with cancer was very strong and she kept her head held high and she was positive through the whole fight."
Anjalee is continuing to give back even after her Oct. 14 death: She donated her brain to science.
A fundraiser has since been set up by her old job at Primrose School of Legacy to help cover the cost of medical bills. Donations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.