St. Louis City woman fights cancer while fighting to stay in her home


ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis woman is fighting to stay in her home and fighting stage four cancer at the same time.   

Anne Marie Grassmann, 77, can’t find anyone to make repairs after a lightning strike at her home on Minnesota Avenue in South St. Louis.   

The city of St. Louis Building Division has now condemned her house and threatened to force her out.  

There’s just been a big new development in the story. 

Grassmann’s nightmare goes back to June 27. She had gotten her cancer diagnosis about three weeks earlier. Lightning struck a tree on the city of St. Louis property. Part of the tree fell onto the balcony outside her bedroom, over her front porch.   

“It was in the middle of the night. It was a lightning strike,” Grassmann recalled.   

Tree branches brushed her bedroom window but did not break the glass.   

“It’s a lot of added stress especially when they start talking about condemning your house and you don’t even know what that means to you,” she said.   

With the help of an oxygen machine, she granted Fox 2 News an interview inside her home, Thursday, as she received chemotherapy treatment for stage four colon cancer.  

With the help of her daughter and insurance agent, she received a close to $7,000 check to repair her porch. Four months after the lightning strike, they still can’t find a contractor to do the work.    

Last month, she received a warning letter from the city of St. Louis building inspector citing the porch damage and minor interior violations. 

On Oct. 11, the inspector sent a notice that her house was condemned, giving Grassmann 10 days to make repairs, or vacate her home, and face a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to 90 days. 

“We told them flat out we have the money,” her daughter Alycia Cissell said. “We have the ability. We want to get this done. We just can’t find a construction person. (The inspector) said, ‘that’s beside the point. You have 30 days. That’s not my problem.’ ” 

Cancer is her real danger, not her home. The only structural problem is the balcony over the front porch.   

“I’m not stupid. I have cancer but it doesn’t make me stupid,” Grassmann said, fighting tears. “I think that’s the only danger I’m in.”   

Fox 2 News got an email response from the city of St. Louis Building Division late Thursday afternoon, saying that the city of St. Louis had no intention of forcing Grassmann out of her home.  

While the city has an obligation to notify residents of violations and safety concerns, a district inspector or supervisor would be reaching to alleviate her fears.  

The email went on to say that hopefully the issues causing the violation letter could be addressed soon and that Grassmann would be able to stay focused on her cancer treatment and recovery.   

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