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Friends raise money for seventh-grader with cancer

Special Photo
 Friends of Ansley Arnette, a seventh-grader at Twin Rivers Middle School, held a fundraiser in her honor Sunday, raising $7,500 for her cancer treatments. Arnette was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor in July. 

Special Photo Friends of Ansley Arnette, a seventh-grader at Twin Rivers Middle School, held a fundraiser in her honor Sunday, raising $7,500 for her cancer treatments. Arnette was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor in July. 

LAWRENCEVILLE — Making a posterboard filled with their favorite photos, young friends of Ansley Arnette contemplated doing more for their ailing ally as they put together the collage meant to buoy her spirits.

Ansley, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Twin Rivers Middle School, was diagnosed with an incredibly rare brain tumor — one that covers the entire right side of her brain — on July 2.

Her friends wanted to do anything they could to help.

“They were sitting around the kitchen table saying, well, what else can we do, what can we do to help?” said Amy Lewis. Her daughter Ashley was one of those girls. “This was totally their idea. It was totally their vision of what they can do to help their friend.”

On Sunday, Ansley’s classmates hosted the answer to their question, holding a fundraiser at the Turtle Creek subdivision near Old Fountain Road and collecting $7,500 for her treatment.

“Her little friends, about 10 of them, they’ve been together since kindergarten, and they put all of this together,” Ansley’s mother, Paige Arnette, said. “We never ever expected to have the turnout that we did.”

Calling themselves “Ansley’s Angels,” the group of middle schoolers sold lemonade, cookies, bracelets and more, making gray shirts to signify their support for the fight against brain cancer.

Completely organized by the kids, they put together posters and advertisements around Twin Rivers, Freeman’s Mill Elementary and their individual neighborhoods.

“It was very heartwarming, let me tell you,” Arnette said. “They worked really hard, and it was really hot Sunday. But they didn’t give up.”

Added Lewis: “You could just feel the love in the air. The support from the community was unbelievable.”

Ansley’s brain tumor is a non-curable one called a diffuse infiltrating astrocytoma. It is so rare that doctors told the Arnettes there had only been a dozen or so documented cases in the last 20 years.

It’s even rarer in children, with Ansley being just the “third or fourth” diagnosed with the tumor, Paige Arnette said.

Ansley’s doctor conferred with colleagues from Johns Hopkins and St. Jude hospitals before they decided on a two-year course of bi-weekly chemotherapy to try and stop the spread of the slow-growing tumor.

She’ll try to stay in school all the while.

“She’s got a tough road to hoe the next couple years,” Paige Arnette said, “but (her friends) are right by her.”

Donations can be made to “Ansley’s Angels” at any Gwinnett branch of Brand Bank & Trust.