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Young musician's struggle with cancer inspires concert

By: MaryAnn DePietro Special to The Press Tribune
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Benefit concert Monday, Dec. 14 7 p.m. Valley Springs Presbyterian Church 2401 Olympus Drive Roseville On Christmas day, Annina Hanlon will not only celebrate her 13th birthday, she will walk for the first time since September. Annina, who is a seventh-grader at Olympus Middle School and member of the Placer County Youth Orchestra, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on June 30, 2009. Osteosacroma is a type of bone cancer that primarily affects children and young adults. According to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, it represents about 5 percent of pediatric cancers. It is often an aggressive cancer. After Annina’s diagnosis she underwent surgery to remove a tumor and a portion of the bone in her right leg. A titanium rod was inserted into her leg and she needed to stay off the leg while it healed. She said she is looking forward to Christmas morning, when she can put weight on the leg. “In addition to surgery, Annina has undergone a lung biopsy, several hospital stays, numerous tests and is currently undergoing chemotherapy,” Annina’s mom, Roma Hanlon said. The Hanlons expect Annina to have full use of her leg in the future, however high impact activities such as running may be out. According to her mother, Annina is having a good response to treatment and should be finished with chemotherapy in February. “She handles it all amazingly well. She feels bad for other children who may not be responding to treatment as well and she knows she is fortunate and feels optimistic. She has a let’s just get this done attitude,” Roma said. That resilient attitude is also apparent to Margie Hartung, the director of the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Hartung, who lost her own husband to a rare form of cancer 10 years ago, said she remembers how much support from family, friends, and the community can help during a cancer battle. Together with the members of the youth orchestra, the idea for a benefit concert developed. “All the members want to show their support and help in anyway,” Hartung said. The benefit will be held Monday at Valley Springs Presbyterian Church in Roseville. The orchestra members are students from area schools ranging in grades seven through college. Prior to the orchestra’s performance, actors from Stage 9 Garbeau’s will be singing. Desert and raffle prizes are also planned. Tickets are available at the door the evening of the concert and a $6 donation per person is suggested. All proceeds will be donated to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Hartung describes Annina as sweet, hardworking, friendly, and talented. She plays three instruments including the clarinet, guitar, and violin. “She is wise beyond her years. She wants to use her experience to help others. Raising awareness for cancer research is important to her,” Hartung said. Although Annina will need to get hers doctor’s approval, she hopes to attend the fundraiser on the 14th and maybe say a few words. “I want to help raise awareness for sarcoma research. There is not enough government money going for research for pediatric cancer, such as osteosarcoma. I don’t want other kids to have to go through what I am,” Annina said. For more information about the benefit concert or osteosarcoma contact the Sarcoma Foundation of America or visit www.curesarcoma.org.