A Walmart employee has been let go after repeatedly making fun of a cancer patient's hair.

Anna LaBella of Ilion has been battling cancer for a little over 2 years. When she first lost her hair a gentleman working at the Herkimer Walmart made a snide remark about it. "My husband explained to him what she was going through and asked him not to say that," said Anna's mom Jess LaBella.

Credit - Jess LaBella
Credit - Jess LaBella
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Time went by and the employee said something again. LaBella was told the person would be spoken to after she complained to a manager. But the same thing continued to happen - rude comments and promises the employee would be dealt with.

The final straw for LaBella came a week ago when the employee commented on Anna's hair just after the family learned her cancer was spreading. "She has been upset about a bald spot growing hair due to radiation and she actually went and sat in the car while I got groceries. I went to management again, explained everything, and was told the man would be talked to."

The lack of action had LaBella turning to social media to vent her frustration. "I was shocked by the response. We had so many people calling Walmart and the corporate office complaining about what this man did on behalf of my daughter."

Walmart Apologizes

Enough complaints came in something was finally done about it. "Some top managers at Walmart contacted me to let me know it was being looked into," said LaBella. "Then the main manager at Herkimer Walmart called and let me know how sorry they were it happened and advised us this man was terminated from his position."

The manager invited Anna to the store for an apology in person. "He apologized on behalf of Walmart and let her know she would never have to go through that again."

Anna was then surprised by a huge wagon full of gifts.

Credit - Jess LaBella
Credit - Jess LaBella
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Cancer Battle Continues

"I was so grateful for how they handled it and amazed by Anna's supporters that took the time to call or even go and stick up for her."

Anna has been battling Ewing’s Sarcoma since being diagnosed in July of 2019. She was cancer-free after going through treatment for about a year. "Unfortunately she relapsed in February of 2021 and has continued to fight," said LaBella. "We were told it has continued to spread and we are now looking into clinical trials in New York City for help."

Credit - Jess LaBella
Credit - Jess LaBella
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Sunshine Cart

Anna isn't just fighting to win her cancer battle. She's fighting for others going through the same battle. Anna's Sunshine Cart helps bring smiles, snacks, and support to children wherever they may be in the hospital. And she has one at The Ronald McDonald House, Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at The Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med.

Credit - Jess LaBella
Credit - Jess LaBella
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"This has become something they look forward to and we want to make sure we always have it stocked."

Family, friends, and even strangers have helped in that mission, sending boxes and boxes of items Anna can load in the carts. "You all have no idea how much this truly means to these kids and their parents," said LaBella. "To have something there that makes these kids excited to go to the doctor's is amazing and a blessing."

Anna Strong on Facebook

You can follow Anna's journey or help keep the Sunshine Cart stocked at Anna Strong on Facebook.

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