Anna Cardwell's Family Feared 'She's Not Living in Reality' as Her Cancer Worsened: 'She Doesn't Want to Face It'

Lauryn "Pumpkin" Efird wished her sister Anna would get "her affairs in order" so that their family could "just hang out and worry about spending time with her" in her final months

Anna Cardwell/Instagram Anna Cardwell
Anna Cardwell/Instagram Anna Cardwell

Months before Anna "Chickadee" Cardwell’s death, her family expressed concerns that she wasn’t being realistic when it came to her journey with cancer.

On Friday's episode of Mama June: Family Crisis, Anna went through her “fourth round of chemo and final round of chemo” after being diagnosed with stage 4 adrenal carcinoma in January 2023.

“I'm just glad that everything is finally over with and I can grow my hair back finally,” Anna shared while receiving treatment.

Her mother Mama June Shannon opened up about the toll that chemotherapy had on her daughter, explaining, “Me and Justin have been with Anna every round of chemo. Like the first round, it was okay. She didn't have any side effects but she lost her hair pretty quick. The second round, she was very nauseous. The third round, she pretty much just slept through it. Here we are at the fourth round and my fear is what happens after the chemo isn't in her body.”

Anna Cardwell/Instagram Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell
Anna Cardwell/Instagram Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell

Related: Anna Cardwell's Husband Is Finally Emotionally Ready to Go Through Her Things 2 Months After Her Death (Exclusive)

She added: “The thing that I hate about f---ing cancer, and especially her cancer because it's so aggressive, is we don't know.”

The 44-year-old reality star called the experience of caring for her daughter “very emotionally and mentally and sometimes physically draining.”

Anna admitted that she was surprised by her mother jumping into action and spending time in Atlanta to help care for her after a rocky period in their relationship. She said, “I'm honestly kind of shocked that Mama is doing all what she's doing and I'm very grateful for it because everybody knows me and Mama’s relationship is not the greatest. It's been on and off for eight-plus years now.”

She shared that their bond is getting stronger and their relationship was “getting back to where it used to be,” adding June has been “an amazing help” during the ordeal.

Despite wanting to be there for her daughter, June admitted that she has “a lot is going on in my life right now,” adding, “We just found out Anna had cancer [and] now she's having treatment. We have to go back and forth to Alabama. We're living in and out of a suitcase. It does mentally and emotionally exhaust me a lot. I hate it’s adding stress to our newly married life right now, but I mean, I have to be there for Anna.”

<p>Desiree Navarro/Getty</p> Mama June visits Build Series to discuss 'Mama June: From Not to Hot' at Build Studio on June 11, 2018 in New York City.

Desiree Navarro/Getty

Mama June visits Build Series to discuss 'Mama June: From Not to Hot' at Build Studio on June 11, 2018 in New York City.

Related: Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell's Husband 'Teared Up Like a Baby' Watching Their Wedding Back (Exclusive)

When Lauryn "Pumpkin" Efird visited her mom and stepfather Justin Stroud’s rental home, Anna told her sister that she was hopeful that the chemotherapy was “working” and planned to implement a healthier lifestyle to improve her “life expectancy” with the hopes of seeing her daughter Kaitlyn enter high school.

However, Lauryn, 24, believed the family needed to focus on things beyond Anna’s cancer treatment to make sure her affairs were in order before her death.

After learning that the doctor told Anna that she would live "5 or 10" more years, Lauryn told her mother, “She is not living in reality at all, Mama, like she does not realize she's gonna die. I think she knows that she's gonna die." June then interjected, “But she doesn't want to face it.”

When Pumpkin insisted that her sister needed to prepare for death, June agreed. She told Lauryn that she tried to get a “death policy” for Anna but she said her daughter refused to give her the necessary information for the policy.

<p>facebook</p> Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell and her daughters


Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell and her daughters

Related: Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell Shares Sentimental First Dance with New Husband Eldridge After Cancer Diagnosis (Exclusive)

“I'm kinda shocked that Mama was even looking into life insurance policies for the girls and for Anna,” Lauryn said in a confessional referring to Anna’s daughters Kaitlyn Elizabeth, 11, and Kylee Madison, 8. “But honestly, I think that is very important because girls are top priority. Anna’s husband Eldridge isn't even the biological father of the two kids.”

“Kylee, her dad is still in the picture. So legally, he would get custody of her. But you know, with Kaitlyn she doesn't have a dad around or in the picture at all,” she added. “So it's like, where's she gonna go?”

Lauryn wished that her sister would make arrangements so that they could enjoy her final months together, telling her mother, “The cancer part wouldn't be so bad if she would just fix the stuff that needs to be fixed, get her affairs in order and then we'd all be able to just hang out and worry about spending time with her.”

During the conversation, June shared that Anna mistakenly believed her husband Eldridge Toney would get custody of the children because they are married but that’s “not the case.”

Lauryn said June needed to talk to Anna about her wishes for her children but her mother told her it was like “talking to a brick wall.” The conversation concluded with Lauryn arguing it was still her responsibility, saying, “You wanted the f---ing Mama title back, you can have it back.”

<p>Anna Cardwell/Instagram</p> Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell and Eldridge Toney

Anna Cardwell/Instagram

Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell and Eldridge Toney

Related: Mama June Shannon Admits She Has 'Good Days' and 'Bad Days' After Daughter Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell's Death

June later told her husband that she and Lauryn “both feel like and the reason why she's kind of dragging her feet is because then that makes it real, like 'Hey, I'm not gonna be around like see Kaitlyn graduate high school, I'm not gonna be around to see Kylee graduate.'"

She added in confessional, “If you had to go to a courthouse and sign a piece of paper saying that when I pass away, this is who gets my child. Like, that's a hard pill to swallow. And I think sometimes people are so quick to say what they would do in the situation but until you're put in this situation, you don't know how the hell you are going to be.”

June realized that she and Justin needed to find a house especially because Eldridge had told them that he would “not be able to handle it” if Anna went into hospice. She added, “She's gonna have to be with us, she's gonna have to be watched 24/7.”

Justin was also concerned about the custody of Anna’s children, saying in a confessional, “If me and June do end up with custody of Kaitlyn, it’s gonna be a big adjustment. Taking care of a kid is a huge responsibility, but if that's something that we need to do.”

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Mama June: Family Crisis airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on WE tv.

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