All Star: Hannah
Hannah loves building forts, playing with her My Little Ponies, and hanging out with her brave big brother, Jacob. In her precious free time, she enjoys being crafty, painting and shopping with her mom. “People would describe her as smart and strong - and headstrong, too,” said Hannah’s mom, Christa.
Hannah's strength and resilience were put to the ultimate test when she was only 3 years old. In December of 2014, symptoms of low grade fevers started showing. Since it was cough and cold season, she was misdiagnosed for months. In March 2015, Hannah had an enlarged lymph node removed from her neck. They hoped this would determine the cause of the daily fevers and low blood counts, and it did. In result of this surgery, neuroblastoma cells were found in the lymph node. This meant cancer had already spread throughout her tiny little body. She was diagnosed with advanced stage Neuroblastoma, a cancer that starts in young nerve cells. Everything changed for her and her family.
Hannah’s loved ones felt numb after the diagnosis. Christa quickly took leave from work and was never able to return again, while her father works full time to keep up with medical or housing bills. Horrified that the diagnosis had stayed hidden for so long, they felt a wave of hopelessness. But instead of being paralyzed by the shocking news, they charged head on into treatment, and dubbed her "Hannah the Tiny Warrior." She endured many months of inpatient chemotherapy. During the process she lost her kidney and lymph nodes, above her heart.
Her parents strive to cover the needs of both their children - one healthy, one sick - by ‘tag team’ parenting as they alternate between staying at the hospital and being at home. Family, neighbors and a loving community has helped them pick up the pieces they had to drop. Hannah has handled the tough treatment with grace and patience.
“If you want to see the true strength of a family and community, watch how they handle one of their own deal with pediatric cancer,” Christa claimed. “I think Hannah’s biggest strength is her ability to persevere, even when the odds are against her.”
Hannah’s family is grateful that they were referred to Pinky Swear. Going from a two income household down to one is a financial stretch. With the help of a Pinky Swear Envelope grant, they were able to pay their mortgage, even when the bills from treatment started rolling in. “The boost from Pinky Swear was just what we needed to keep floating - one less thing to worry about - as we tried to navigate through Hannah’s treatment plan.”
Love Your Melon is an apparel brand run by college students across the country on a mission to give a hat to every child battling cancer in America. A percentage of the net proceeds from the sale of all Love Your Melon products are donated to Pinky Swear Foundation to support kids with cancer and their families. Learn more >