We lost a close family friend this June. I have been wanting to write about all of this since then, I just haven’t been able to sort my thoughts. I am now ready to tell you the story of Anna Basso and her incredible family. It is about how one person’s precious life has affected so many people.
Anna Basso’s family lives in Dallas next door to my sister Susan and her husband, Mark, and their 3 kids. Over the past 6 years I have been going to Dallas a lot more often than I had, beginning with my dad’s diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma — cancer of the plasma cells (in the leukemia and lymphoma family). I would run down there whenever my sister called. My dad passed away in September of 2007. Over that period I really got to know Dave and Carol Basso. They are 2 of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know. When I was in town often we would end up at their home for dinner. They always opened up their home to others. When my dad passed away, my sister’s house was full of relatives, so I spent a couple of nights at Carol’s. She was so thoughtful in preparing their guest room for me, I felt like I was at a nice cozy hotel. My mom lives about a block away and has had a rough time with my dad passing away. The Bassos would always include my mom on gatherings and Carol would dutifully deliver the USA weekend paper to my mom every Friday. She would also take meals over to my mom’s house regularly.
My sister and Mark tried to sell their home in the spring of 2009 to buy a different home about a mile away. Their home just wouldn’t sell. It was on the market for 6 months. I think they weren’t supposed to move away from Dave and Carol. They ended up staying and remodeling. Dave and Carol had 2 daughters, Patrice and Anna. In November 2009 their youngest, Anna, 16, a junior in high school, was having pain around her pelvis. Carol took her in to the doctor. At first they had trouble diagnosing it. I was hoping if it had to be cancer, it would be Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, like I had, which is usually curable. It wasn’t — it was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer of the soft tissue and bone.
The Bassos were going to fight this thing. They set up a journal on Caring Bridge so everyone could keep up with what was happening with Anna. My brother-in-law, Mark, came up with the idea of creating a site, www.1millionprayers.com. He owns an ad agency, Firehouse (by the way, he was instrumental in creating Happy First). Mark and his creative team went to work. They wanted to get 1 million prayers for Anna. This site reached people all across the world. The verse they chose was Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” and they wanted people to pray for Anna every day at 12:12 pm.
The Bassos gave it their best. After a year of treatment, we all thought Anna was ok, but then they found more cancer cells. Treatment again. It was hard to see Anna and her family going through all of that. But she held her head up, was strong, positive and an unbelievable inspiration to others. She was surrounded by her family and friends. Anna loved the Dallas Mavericks, the color purple, music and butterflies. I didn’t know Anna really well: I knew her parents better, so this story is from a somewhat outside perspective. She went to a Catholic high school in Dallas that absolutely loved and embraced her. She was their homecoming queen. Her high school friends made a video “Dear Anna” for her when she was going though treatment that really touched me and makes me think of her every time I hear this song- Float On by Modest Mouse.
I have been back and forth to Dallas a lot this spring because my mom has had major health problems, so I have been at my sister’s a lot. Susan and Mark have had quite a hard time, being so close to Anna and her family, watching everyone suffer throughout her treatment. Since I have been going to Dallas so much, I have gotten to know Patrice better, Anna’s older sister. She will be a senior in college, studying journalism. I just love Patrice and think she is so talented-she is an excellent blogger. Her blog is www.patricesblog.com. It’s now as if Anna is with Patrice in Patrice’s writings.
Anna went to prom and looked absolutely beautiful. It is one of my favorite pictures of her. I know she really didn’t feel well at the time, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. She then saved all of her strength for her graduation day Memorial Day weekend. She had lots of family come in for it. That night she wanted to go out with her friends to see her favorite band, Manchester Orchestra that was in town. Her mom didn’t think she would be able to have the strength, but she did. What Anna didn’t know was that her friends had arranged for Anna to be on stage. The band sang “I can feel your pain” to her. They gave her gifts and took pictures. Anna told her friends and family that it was the best night of her life. Then the website reached 1 million prayers on June 1, 2011 (the first of the month always has a special meaning to me-happy first) Sweet Anna died a week and a half later, on June 8, 2011.
I don’t know why she had to pass away. I know God has a plan, but sometimes it is hard to see. I know she is in a better place, but I am so sad for all of us, her friends and family. Everyone misses her intensely, dearly. I have friends that never even met her that were praying for her, following her story since day 1 of her diagnosis. Anna has touched so many lives. The Bassos have received letters from people around the world that have been affected by Anna.
In my next entry I will tell you about some things that happened that I don’t think were coincidences and also an idea to help someone else in Anna’s memory.