Hannah was a bright, active, healthy nine year old girl until the fall of 2007 when she was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor – a malignant, anaplastic medulloblastoma. Neurosurgeons at Seattle Children’s Hospital immediately removed the tumor, after which her life as she knew it ceased to exist.
For the next year, Hannah endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy in addition to full brain and spine radiation. Due to the aggressive nature of her tumor, Hannah also participated in a research study chaired by Dr. Jim Olson, augmenting the standard treatment for this disease. The cumulative and toxic effects of this treatment and surgery resulted in significant impairment to Hannah’s cognitive, physical, and emotional functioning, particularly robbing her of her independence. But we hoped and prayed that it would all be worth it if Hannah were cured of her cancer.
Despite receiving “all of the above” available methods of treatment under the care of the best pediatric neuro-oncologists on the planet, Hannah’s tumor returned 18 months after she was diagnosed. The prognosis for a relapsed medulloblastoma is currently very poor, but Hannah developed a fighting warrior spirit, bravely believing that she would beat the cancer again. Given a multitude of unproven treatment options, Hannah started a new chemotherapy and attempted to keep her life at home and at school as normal as possible. But the cancer continued to progress despite numerous chemo regimens and gamma knife radiation. As the cancer and treatment took its toll again, we came to the realization that we could not halt the disease and that we would lose our precious daughter.
In the summer of 2010, we stopped treatment and enjoyed what time we had left together at home. In the end, Hannah died peacefully in her own bed, surrounded by her family. We are very grateful for the support we received during this time from Seattle Children’s Hospital and Hospice of Kitsap County.
In addition to our gratitude for Seattle Children’s, we support the work of Dr. Olson and his research colleagues in hopes that more effective, less toxic treatments for brain cancer can be realized. We pray that in the future, no child has to suffer the devastating effects of brain cancer and its current treatment. And we pray that no parent will have to lose their child in this way once new treatments are discovered. Thank you for supporting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Fund towards that end.