Anya’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We've created it to keep friends and family updated about our little Anya.

Visit often to read the latest journal entries, visit the photo gallery, and write us a note in our guestbook.

 Anya approached her Mom and Dad in early April 2012 complaining of stomach pain and a pain in her side. She asked for some kind of medicine to help her tummy ache. She tried TUMS, which soon changed to Childrens Tylenol to cope with the pains. She never displayed a temperature or anything more than simple aches and pains of a growing nine year old child. After a few more nights of concerns and complaints of tummy pains though, Anya asked to see the family doctor. We took her to the Doctors office the next morning.

When we got to the Doctors office we discovered that she needed an x-ray to determine what was bugging her. When the X-ray came back we looked at it together and there was a strange shape to her left hip bone. The Doctor ordered an MRI to be done at Children's Hospital in St. Paul.

Anya and Dad went to the hospital. She did great in the tube, but her nerves were getting to her as she reached the half way point. Anya asked that Dad would sit in the room and hold her hand while she finished the test. It was a really special moment for Dad.

Dad recieved a call from the doctor's office that there was some sort of adnormality on the scans and that the doctor wanted to meet with Mom and Dad the following day. When we went to the office the next morning the Doctor confirmed that Anya has a tumor 4cm X 5cm X 5cm. Our worst nightmare confirmed. The Doctor said that most likely it is Ewings sarcoma, but further testing would need to be done to absolutely confirm the results. She stated that our Oncology team from Anya's brother was already alerted and working on the problem.

Latest Journal Update

Grateful hearts

It probably seems unusual to come back to Anya's site on the day of Thanksgiving. It's been 7 months since our miss Ah left this dreary mortality and I cannot even imagine what kind of new adventures she has in Heaven! Or maybe she is busy bringing spirits to accepting the Gospel. Or maybe she heard Nadia yesterday that it is strange not to have snow on thanksgiving and she got busy doing her magic of convincing whoever is in charge of snow making to surprise us this morning here in MN.:) It sure made her brother beyond happy and excited to see snow on the ground.

In the meantime, we are entering this holiday season with heavy hearts and teary eyes. Anya LOVED holidays, she loved special meals and things we've done together as a family during this magical time. As I opened the door this morning letting the dog out, hearing the soft sound of her chimes on the deck, tears started streaming down my face, hoping she would stand there with me, so I could rub her bald head, or soft with fuzz head, or run my fingers through her long auburn hair just one more time, while we look in awe at that first fallen snow.

So, after a rough "feeling sorry for myself" day yesterday, and after some pondering through today, I find myself feeling grateful that I had the privilege to be a mother to such a special soul here on earth. With her existence, she changed our family. Our struggles are not in any way diminished, but they helped us to see through clear lenses, what this life is all about. There are so many distractions here on earth, but at this time all that matters is to live life worthy to return back to our Heavenly Father and be all together as a family in eternity.

I miss my dear girl so much that it causes me physical pain, and no one can do anything to change that until I will somehow be capable to live with that grief carried around in some invisible suitcase. Anya was so wise to let us know that she didn't want us to stop living and we are all trying to follow her wishes. But I want to miss her, I want to hear her name, I want to talk about her, I want to see her pictures and with that I never want Evan to forget her. She is our personal angel now. She is not dead to us, she is just waiting for us somewhere else.

Today I am grateful for raw emotions and feelings. They are signs that we continue living even though without Anya's physical presence. I am grateful for our faith, I am so grateful for Christ's atonement which allows us to live here on earth with a sense of direction and hope for something beautiful and better beyond mortality.

Because of Anya's departure, I value relationships within the family on a different level. I wish I could turn the clock back and have fewer expectations, be more gentle, pick my battles... But experience teaches us, makes us wiser. Without loss we would never be who we are today. There is opposition in everything... I am grateful for our sweet Evan who doesn't even know what a blessing he is to us! I am so thankful for Nadia who loves her little brother and does such beautiful job of continuing her life without her big brother around and her " dance partner" sister leaving her outnumbered. I can't wait to see what wonderful things she'll do in her future. And how proud I am of our Peter, who is putting his personal life on hold by serving the people of far away Russia as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! This experience is changing him already, just after 3 months of being away...

Mortality is not easy, but it's all gonna be worth it someday. Today I choose to be grateful and by doing that I'll learn how to be happy again. Thank you for reading this post. Because if you are, it means in some way through our journey you helped us. And we hope it will come back to you tenfold...


14 people hearted this



Donalee Johnson
By ~Donalee Johnson
Thank you for sharing such deep, genuine sentiments with us. I have a feeling Anya was on many people's minds over the Thanksgiving Holiday. I know as I reflected on this past year and what I was thankful for, I thought of Anya. I was extremely thankful I had a chance to get to know her in sixth grade. Your little girl taught me some valuable life lessons!! She left an everlasting imprint on many people's hearts. I'm grateful my heart was one of them. I wish you and your family continued courage, strength, peace, and comfort as you face the upcoming holiday season. May Anya's spirit continue to surround you all!
1 person hearted this
Jenny Wazlawik

And if I go,
while you're still here...
Know that I live on,
vibrating to a different measure
--behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
--both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart,
...I will be there.

Ascension copyright ©1987, Colleen Corah Hitchcock

This poem has brought me comfort with the loss of my dad seven years ago. Your post reminded me of its message and I pray it brings you comfort as well. The love never leaves you, but with time, I pray some of the pain will fade. Your family continues to be in our prayers. Blessings to you all this holiday season. Merry Christmas angel Anya!!
1 person hearted this
Susie Sanders Nolan
By Susie Sanders Nolan — last edited
Love you & your family so much💞 Wishing you many loving memories, comfort & tender mercies from the Lord until you are all together again😘 Thanks so much for sharing. You are all an inspiration for all of us😇
1 person hearted this
Dina Anderson
By Dina Anderson
Zhenya, I think of both you and Anya often. You are both such strong, wise, and faith centered individuals. It was a blessing and privilege to have spent Anya's fifth grade year together. I pray that the memories and stories of Anya are ever present and that the pain of losing her on Earth eases with time.
1 person hearted this
Colleen Miklya
By Colleen
What a beautiful tribute Zhenya. This is your year of firsts which will be the hardest. Sharing your heart here helps me to have a better prospective on my relationships. Thanks for being willing to share. Love you my friend.
2 people hearted this
Andrea Gross
Beautiful post. I believe she had something to do with the snow that fell on thanksgiving. Keep talking about her and keep sharing pictures. I always love to see her and remember her.
2 people hearted this
Michelle Miller
By Michelle Miller
So beautifully expressed my sweet friend. I pray that the pain somehow eases, your sweet miss Ah waiting and wanting to hold you and let you know that she misses you just as much, and that yes in time it you will all be made whole, your family together eternally!!
2 people hearted this
Sarah Kanter
By Sarah Kanter
I have to echo what Amy Cook said. I student taught with her at Oakland and had the pleasure of having Anya in class. Now having my own classroom, Anya is constantly on my mind. She always walked into the classroom with a smile on her face that warmed the hearts of those around her.

She is in my thoughts everyday. My thoughts and prayers are with you, the DeVol family. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and know that Anya has changed so many lives.
1 person hearted this
Amy Cook
By Amy Cook
What a lovely post. I have been thinking of Anya lately, and sending prayers for your family.

Please know that Anya's Oak-Land "family" thinks of her often and continues to feel blessed by having known her.
1 person hearted this
Barb Thibaudeau
By Barb Thibaudeau
Zhenya, what a beautiful post and what a beautiful soul you are! I loved sharing this Thanksgiving day with you, talking about your special Anya and enjoying your friendship. You and Mat are remarkable, and have a exceptional family - such a tribute to your depth and goodness of your hearts. I hope you felt loved today. Thank you for sharing~ Love you so much!
2 people hearted this