Annamarie Persons inspires other patients

7:43 AM, Jan 14, 2013   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - At Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, the smallest patients sometimes need to be the bravest.

Four-year-old Hayden James Fife isn't having a good day. He's been spending a lot of time in bed after being diagnosed with leukemia

"One day you feel great and everything is optimistic and the next day it's hard," says Jaclyn Fife, Hayden's mom.

No one so small should have to go through so much but in this dark room every day, there is a ray of sunshine.

"She takes all these kids and treats them like they're her little siblings," says Fife.

Annamarie Persons, 17, has been called the princess of the fourth floor.

"When he has all these people poking and prodding at him," says Fife, "She actually comes in and sits there with him. It makes me so emotional, she makes him feel normal again."

It's nearly impossible to keep up with the high school junior from Fredericktown. Her positive attitude may be the most contagious thing in the hospital.

"She's always smiling and always trying to make everybody happy she's never thinking about herself," laughs Nurse Kim Whoberry.

It wasn't always that way. Her mom, Wendy Persons, says she was a typical teenager until last June when she too was diagnosed with leukemia.

"She broke down, said Persons. "She broke in the ER that night and that was pretty much it."

"A life threatening illness with anybody is why me and that's what I thought," explains Annamarie. "And now it's like well, why not me?"

Make no mistake, Annamarie has had her moments. Her form of leukemia is a fast growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow and requires intense chemotherapy.

"There's days when Anna doesn't even want to get out of bed but she does," says Whoberry.

Anna believes that since getting healthy is the most important thing then attitude is everything.

"I have a 50-50 chance either way, and it's up to me. I have to be positive or negative about it," says Annamarie. "The more negative I am than the less chance that I have.

Annamarie has been here so long she celebrated the Fourth of July here, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and today she's celebrating her 17th birthday.

It seemed everybody on the fourth floor, at least the ones that could get out of bed, did to celebrate Annamarie's birthday. And she has another reason to celebrate. Her cancer is in remission.

"I started out the New Year treatment free and cancer-free," says Annamarie proudly.

As soon as her immune system gets stronger Annamarie will finally be able to go home. Until then, she will continue to help Hayden and all the other children on the fourth floor by lighting their way on the road to recovery.

"I love that girl," said Fife.

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