Anne has cancer

Dear family and friends,

We are writing to you with an update on my (Anne’s) health. On April 18 I was diagnosed with an advanced form of a rare kind of cancer, called Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) cancer (sometimes also called carcinoid cancer).

My health has been declining for the last six months or so. In September of 2015 we began to notice that I was losing weight, and was not altogether well. Over the next several months we began to ask some questions about my health and tried to get a sense of what could be the cause of my symptoms and difficulties, ruling out various things in the process. In January, we began to suspect that endometriosis (which was diagnosed surgically ten years ago) might be back and causing the pain, discomfort, and other symptoms, including continued weight loss, and we began making plans for treatment. On April 13 I went in for surgery to identify and remove endometriosis. The doctor found a little endometriosis, but not enough to satisfactorily explain all of my symptoms, and when he went looking for other possibilities he noticed my appendix was inflamed, so performed an appendectomy. They sent my appendix and some other tissue for testing and they revealed the cancer. I had a 4.5 cm Grade 1 malignant endocrine carcinoid tumour in my appendix, and another 1 cm tumour metastasized in my left pelvic wall. We do not know for certain yet where the cancer originated and expect to find more tumours. The fact that it has metastasized out of the GI tract and into my pelvis means it is an advanced form of the disease. Grade 1 means it is slow growing, the best news. Judging from the size of the tumour I’ve probably had this cancer for about eight to ten years – it grows very slowly.

It is a very rare kind of cancer – many doctors have not heard of it, and it requires specialized care. There are about two dozen specialists in the world, and none in South Africa, and so we need to seek treatment elsewhere; while there are doctors here with some experience, I have an advanced form of the disease and will need a highly experienced team who focuses on and understands this kind of cancer. We are currently planning to move to Philadelphia to receive care through the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Global Medicine Program. They have specialists and a clinic set up to care specifically for this kind of cancer and are able to deal with our visa/immigration issues (I am Canadian with no status in the USA).

We are unable to receive treatment in Canada; while there are specialists, Canada’s social medical coverage means I would need to wait three months before being covered for treatment. There is no easy way around this, so we would be struggling against the system to get the care I would need and it would rapidly become very, very expensive.

Coleman’s family is from just outside Philadelphia, and so we will set up our ‘home base’ in Bryn Athyn, at their house. Our children will be able to have stability there with loving care from grandparents, aunts and uncles, extended family and friends, and Coleman will be able to focus on helping me as we face this.

We are currently in South Africa finishing initial tests to determine the extent of the cancer. We will stay for another week or two until these initial tests are completed and then we plan travel for further testing, consultation and treatment.

We know that many of you would like to know more, and would like to know what you can do to help. We’ve set up another page on this website called “Cancer” where you will find information about my condition and the disease itself, with resources from a variety of sites. You can also check the page called “Support Us” where you will find prayer requests, and some ideas on practical ways you might be able to lend a hand.

This is difficult news and we are facing a challenging time ahead. We are very grateful for your love, support, care and prayers, and will do our best to keep you updated.


Anne Grace, Coleman, Samuel and Eleanor.




9 thoughts on “Anne has cancer

  1. Why oh why? It isn’t right that two such dedicated, loving people both have had to deal with this horrible disease! The silver lining is that Hilary and Michael will get to see their grandchildren grow up right in their own home, and that is a great bonus, but it doesn’t make up for the parents’ suffering! I’m so sad to hear this. I’m going to a performance of Haydn’s Creation today, and I will use that entire time as a prayer time for you, listening to the music, and thinking about our Creator and His great mercy and care of us all, and trying hard to understand. Maybe we just can’t. But we can know that His loving providence is over the very least details in our lives–every single one, even if we can’t understand or even see it. So much love to all four of you! Looking forward to being able to help in any way I can.

  2. This breaks my heart. Thank you so much for taking these steps to keep your friends and family informed as we actively pray for you to get through this. You are such a powerhouse couple and while my heart aches for you, it is also warmed by knowing that you have each other and your sweet children to help you get through. Sending love and prayers.

    1. Thank you, Justine, for your love, your prayers, your heart and your willingness to move, to get up and go. It is so hard, thank you for walking through this turmoil with us.

  3. Cara and I are deeply sad to hear about your cancer. We are very blessed in this area to have many wonderful hospitals with world-leading doctors and surgeons. University of Pennsylvania is certainly one of the top facilities in the world. We pray that the Lord will use the knowledge and skill of these doctors to guide you along this journey. With love from both of us.

  4. Dear Coleman and Anne Grace
    We were devastated to here that you have had to this heartbreaking cancer diagnosis. To be able to have your treatments surrounded by your family on this side of the world at the University of Pennslyvania is a plus. You will be surrounded by love and surport 24/7 from all former congregation members who lives you have touched.
    May the Lord guide you on this journey.
    We send our love and prayers to you both and your lovely children.
    David & Margaret Starkey

  5. Dear Anne Grace and Coleman, We are deeply saddened by the news of Anne’s illness.Know that our hearts are with you in this new challenge and that you will be in our prayers as you face the challenges ahead. Much love, John & Ersa

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