But they didn't count on all the reasons Anna had to live.
It's been a year and a half since that diagnosis.
Anna still comforts and cares for every foster dog who arrives at the family home.
"Most of them are on death's door and she will not leave their side," Schermerhorn-Wagner says. "Even on her bad days she continues to try to take care of others."
Earlier this week, Anna was having a bad day. She lay on the front porch, feeling weak and listless, the disease still very much haunting her bones.
Izzy, the family cat, approached her and tenderly licked Anna's face. For more than half an hour.
"Anna had also helped take care of Izzy when she suddenly got really sick a couple of years ago," Schermerhorn-Wagner says. "It seemed Izzy remembered and did her best to comfort Anna."
Yes, Anna. You've got friends now.