, 22, was at the midnight premier of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora when James Holmes
opened fire on the capacity crowd shortly after the movie started. Anderson was struck four times-- three shotgun pellets entered her arm; another went through her nose and into her skull.
"Her injuries were severe, her condition was critical," Brad Strait, Anderson's pastor, wrote on his blog. "The doctors prior to surgery were concerned because so much of the brain had been traversed by the bullet."
But during the course of her five-hour surgery, doctors were shocked to discover that Anderson's brain had sustained remarkably little damage. That's because of a previously unknown birth defect by which she was born with a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull.
"In Petra's case, the shotgun buck shot... enters her brain from the exact point of this defect," Strait wrote. "Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra's nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain."
Anderson, although still hospitalized, has amazingly began to talk and walk again. She is expected to fully recover from her injuries. Having just graduated
from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California with a degree in music composition, that is certainly welcome news to the young woman and her family.
"She could have lost all kinds of function if the bullet traversed her brain," her mother Kim Anderson, who is battling terminal breast cancer, told
the Sacramento Bee
"I believe that she was not only protected by God, but that she was actually prepared for it," she added.
With medical expenses already sky-high due to their mother's cancer treatment, the Anderson family has turned to a charity, the Hope Rises Relief Fund
, for sorely-needed help. More than $32,000 has been raised so far.
Appearing in a promotional video for the fund, Petra's sister Chloe declares that although the family has been "shaken" the Aurora tragedy, "we have not been broken."
"We're watching heroes appear everywhere we look," she said.
H/T Huffington Post