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Hannah’s story began on October 21, 2007 with headaches and a variety of unusual symptoms which were tough to diagnose. My mother’s instinct knew something was wrong. So did Hannah's. On November 5th, during a final trip to the clinic, a CT scan revealed that Hannah had a brain tumor. We were immediately sent to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. Following brain & spinal MRI’s, she was admitted to the hospital. Hannah faced all of these tests (and this new information) bravely, calmly and with eyes wide open— she was much tougher than her parents. The next day, a team of gifted neurosurgeons successfully removed the whole tumor between her cerebellum & brain stem. As Hannah recovered, we awaited the pathology report, finally to discover that the tumor was a malignant anaplastic medulloblastoma. Following further recovery on Children’s inpatient rehab unit, Hannah received radiation and chemotherapies over the course of the next year. In addition, she is participating in a nationwide research study for children with high risk medulloblastoma. Hannah was randomly selected to the arm of the study in which she receives all available treatments, including a trial drug - Accutane - which is new for this type of tumor.
Hannah remained cancer-free for 18 months post diagnosis. On May 13, 2009, during a regular MRI scan, we discovered that Hannah's cancer had returned. She began taking an oral chemo which enabled her to continue her life at home and at school which was very important to Hannah. After 6 months of this new treatment, an MRI showed evidence of 5 small tumors in her brain. We then opted for gamma knife radiation to these tumors, followed by a change in oral chemotherapies. As her tumor continued to show signs of slow but continued progression, we changed treatment courses and prayed for a miracle. Hannah never gave up believing that she could once again beat this cancer.
In the month before Hannah died, we all came to realize that we could not stop the cancer's progression. We stopped treatment and tried to keep Hannah as comfortable and pain-free as possible. With the help of hospice and Children's Hospital, Hannah died peacefully at home on August 30, 2010, surrounded by her family, just a few weeks past her 12th birthday. Although we lost our beloved daughter, we will continue to raise awareness and funds for pediatric brain cancer research. We hope that someday soon, no child and no family has to suffer the devastating effects of brain cancer and its current treatment. It was too late for Hannah but not for the children of our future.
Throughout Hannah's journey, we were comforted and held up by an unbelievable outpouring of love and support from Bainbridge, not to mention from friends & family across the country. Not in a million years would we have chosen this path for Hannah but we walked it with her. We believed in her strength to heal her body, in her feisty, independent spirit, in the love she shared with her many friends and family. Someday we may discover why God chose Hannah to take this path for some very special purpose. We are so grateful for your thoughts & prayers, your gifts both practical & soulful, and for the love you sent to Hannah as well as to her brothers Adam, Ryan & Andrew. Although Hannah’s story began as every parent’s worst nightmare, it became a story of love and caring and why we are all here for each other.