At three years old, a child is supposed to be celebrating milestones like attending preschool, learning how to use the potty, knowing how to count and getting dressed without help.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case for Anna Grace, a toddler who was diagnosed with cancer when she was just two years old.
A little over a year ago, Anna Grace's mother, Allyson Fuller, noticed that her daughter was having trouble walking and getting back up after falling.
"We noticed she was stumbling around—she could walk, but every few steps she would just fall down and beg to be picked up,” Fuller recalled during an interview with People. "We thought she just was going through a phase."
Fuller didn't waste any time in taking her daughter to a pediatrician. After a week of running tests, including an MRI, doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta diagnosed Anna Grace with a rare neurological disorder called opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome (OMS).
However, what really shocked Fuller and the doctors was the result of the second MRI. They discovered a tumor the size of a tangerine on her kidney.
"By this time she could not walk, crawl or even hold herself up," Fuller explained. "It was like having a tiny infant again, but she was 23 months old. If the OMS would have never shown up, we wouldn’t have known about [the tumor] until it spread."
Last October, Anna Grace underwent surgery to remove the tumor, and fortunately, the doctors were able to remove entire cancerous growth from the organ.
"I was terrified, and I was just wondering why was it her and not me, why this happened and how she could still be so happy,” Fuller said. "She would get frustrated because she knew that she could do things, but her body wouldn’t let her, but yet she was still so happy."
The medication Anna Grace was prescribed for her OMS syndrome was expected to take six months to a year to work, but it miraculously started taking effect within a week. Now, the toddler is thriving and has regained her ability to walk.
To celebrate her first anniversary being cancer-free, Fuller booked a photoshoot for Anna Grace and the result is adorable.
Fuller and her friend, Darlene Adams, staged a photoshoot complete with balloons and custom T-shirts.
"She was so excited to be getting her picture taken, she was acting silly the entire time!" said the proud mom. "She is a typical 3-year-old now, with the sass and all. She is truly strong and brave, and loves to play with her baby dolls, be outside and she is a daddy’s girl, that’s for sure."
Anna Grace still needs to receive routine CT scans every three months to keep track of any changes.
Fuller explained that the photoshoot isn't only to commemorate her daughter's fight, it is also to remind parents going through a similar experience not to give up.
"I would like to encourage all parents that are going through what I did to not give up and to keep having faith,” she said. "Pediatric cancer sucks, knowing you can’t do anything to help, and they can’t tell us exactly how they’re feeling."
As for Anna Grace, she's been having a great year finally living like a normal three year old.
"She loves going to follow up with the doctors. She is in preschool now and she loves going to see her friends there," Fuller added. "The last year has been great."
Fuller also hopes that this story will shed light on the often misdiagnosed OMS and raise awareness for it.