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If a child complains about sharp pain in their side, most parents might assume they bumped themselves on a corner, maybe got into some roughhousing with a sibling or like Hana’s family, think they had appendicitis. It’s almost impossible to fathom the cause being childhood cancer.
Unfortunately, that was the case for Hana, a sweet, joyous and active 5 year old who was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor on both her kidneys in June.
Her family was taken aback by the diagnosis and unsure of Hana’s future. Their doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin - Milwaukee arranged a treatment schedule this summer with 12 weeks of chemotherapy before an eventual surgery.
During those chemotherapy sessions, not a visit went by without her entire family showing up in support.
“We’ve all been trying to go to her appointments, which have only been once a week, but we’ve all gone to support Hana,” said her mother Carrie.
Their familial bond has helped them persevere through this difficult time. They know a step-by-step approach can help them conquer Hana’s cancer.
“The oncologist said you just have to take it day-by-day, so I think that’s kind of what we’ve been doing so it doesn’t become too overwhelming,” said Carrie. “Once we finish this step, then we move onto the next step and think about that.”
Hana has been able to maintain a relatively stable life in the meantime, playing in the backyard with her 7-year-old SuperSib, Aiden or getting into normal 5 year old stuff like Barbies and puzzles. She’s still able to go to school and she does her best to avoid the difficult distraction of her treatment. Her parents have appreciated their situation, knowing not every child with cancer is afforded those opportunities.
“Certainly some days she is more tired or doesn’t feel well, but overall she’s been able to go to school and in the summer she’s been able to play,” said Carrie. “I think that’s important because I know for some children that doesn’t happen.”
Hana recently underwent successful surgery to remove the tumors from her kidneys. Her parents don’t know what other treatment will be needed in the future, but they know Hana will face it with a bravery befitting someone who isn’t fazed by the pokes and pains she’s endured.
“Children, their strength is amazing to me, just how brave they are and that they can keep coming back from all these pokes,” said Carrie. “It’s amazing they keep doing it all. They just go to the doctor over and over and Hana’s so strong.”
Hana’s father works at Northwestern Mutual and their entire family just recently participated in the company’s walk in Milwaukee to support ALSF. The event prompted Carrie to dive deeper into the Foundation’s resources including signing up Hana’s brother for SuperSibs. To them, the Foundation means an overall commitment to discovering a cure for pediatric cancer.
In the meantime, they hope Hana’s treatment continues as scheduled so her backyard adventures with her brother won’t have to stop.
Information provided by Carrie Jurgens, Hana’s Mother
Updated September 2017
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