When you walk in to Beans Pet Supply in Hot Springs, you are more than likely to run into a carefree, animal loving teenager. She will gladly show you around and help you with anything you need. Her name is Hannah and her smile will instantly make you feel warm and welcome. Hannah loves animals, especially her bearded dragon and guinea pig who live at home with her. While this alone makes Hannah a pretty amazing kid, one thing you wouldn’t know is that eleven months ago, Hannah was diagnosed with a rare, juvenile granulosa cell ovarian cancer.
Last March, Hannah endured a five-hour surgery to remove a tumor larger than a grapefruit, 42 pounds of fluid, her right ovary and fallopian tube, omentum, and lymph nodes. Results were sent to the Mayo Clinic and eventually she was given her diagnosis. Granular cell tumors make up two percent of all ovarian tumors and only four to five percent of granular cell tumors occur in children. Those numbers give you an idea of just how rare Hannah’s diagnosis is.
From Hannah’s original diagnosis until today, she has had a strong clear head on her shoulders and has fought the whole way with that big beautiful smile on her face. Taking her chemo treatment one day at a time knowing what had to be done for her to get to the other side with a clean bill of health. At such a young age, she has learned patience, the ability to not take things for granted, and has personally experienced the kindness of strangers.
As much as Hannah loves spending time with animals and being helpful at the pet store, you can often find her reading a good book, spending time with her horse or siblings, or maybe even perfecting her new found hobby of crochet.
This girl has ambition with no plans on slowing down.
“I don’t like to talk about the past too much, I’d rather just look towards the future.”
Before she was even diagnosed with the rare cancer, Hannah chose to leave public school for a homeschool option that allows her to advance through coursework faster than she could have in a public school setting. Hannah hopes to pursue a college education in animal sciences that will eventually lead her to owning the pet store she currently works at and loves so dearly.
Though Hannah has hit a rough patch finding out her chemotherapy damaged her pancreas and she had to say goodbye to sugar, there is nothing stopping this girl from being an amazing person. She will have continued follow ups with her care team for the unknown future to make sure she stays in remission, but her hair is growing back and she has been able to get back to all of her activities she missed and loves.
Sharing her story is important to Hannah so she can give inspiration and let other people and kids going through this you can keep going if you just stay positive. Very maturely, Hannah says, “don’t get down about it, take it just one day at a time.”
Words Jessica McGoldrick
Photos Jesse Brown Nelson