Our Inspiration - Hanah Rae
In July 2004, our two year old cousin, Hanah Rae Friel of Naperville, Illinois, was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. Since that time Hanah has received extensive medial treatments including chemotherapy and radiation. Hanah was also the second recipient in an intensive clinical drug therapy trial co-sponsored by Lurie Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hopsital.
Hanah has made amazing progress over the past three years. She finished her treatments in July 2005 and has been in remission since. Hanah still has four years to go until she is truly cancer free, but her prognosis continues to be excellent.
We have learned a lot from this little girl. In spite of all the doctors, tests and hospital stays, Hanah’s spirit remained strong and her blue eyes never stopped dancing. She showed incredible spirit and fight. Hanah continues to flash her impish grin, winning the hearts of everyone she meets.
Hanah’s parents say that they are proud to know that Hanah is an inspiration and encouragement to others. Even though Hanah is only five and a half years old she has a strong, outgoing personality and a caring spirit. Her sense of humor and laughter bring a smile to those she meets, and she is truly fearless about life.
Hanah is little, but she has touched the hearts of so many people in a big way. As she grows she will better understand the impact she has had others. Hanah is the inspiration for our journey, and we will embrace our mission with the same drive and determination she shows every day in her quest for a cure.
Hanah's Update - May 2013
Hanah shared her update on how she’s doing – read on!
I am 10 years old and I am in fourth grade at Peterson Elementary. My favorite activities in school are PE, reading and going to the LMC (library). I like PE because you get to play fun games like soccer. I am in accelerated math, the Student Council and Chorus. Volleyball is my favorite sport because I like to get the ball and make points!
I have also been in volleyball club for almost one year. Volleyball is fun because you make new friends and we all have to learn to play together.
I love to spend my extra time reading. Some of the best books I have read are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Out of my Mind. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a story that makes me laugh, it’s so funny. And Out of My Mind is a story of a girl with special needs. I liked this book because I enjoy spending time with kids who have special needs. It makes me feel happy to be able to help others kids who have challenges.
This summer I will be swimming in the pool, playing with my friends, camping and a lot more. I will also be babysitting.
Sara Friel, Hanah’s Mom, continues the story.
Hanah continues to live a full and robust life of a typical ten year old. Her health remains strong and we are blessed to say the she is cancer free! She continues to receive a clean bill of health at each of her annual visits with the Children’s Memorial STAR (Survivors Taking Action & Responsibility) program. The STAR program focuses on the long term effects of chemotherapy and radiation which can have effects on growth, heart and kidney functions.
Hanah continues to have audiology exams on an annual basis. She uses adaptive equipment in the classroom which helps her to hear all that is going on within her surroundings. We have been taking strides to learn sign language; Hanah has attended the Deaf Youth Center hosted by our church Community Christian Church in Naperville, she is scheduled to take sign language classes this summer, and plans to attend the Lions Camp for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired (http://www.lionsofillinoisfoundation.org/services/camplions/campinfo.htm) this year again.
Recently I have had the opportunity to share Hanah’s story. As I recount the events that led up to her diagnosis, it’s hard to control myself as tears fill my eyes. And though it has been eight years since the words “your daughter has cancer” were said to us, the forbidding memory is still very fresh in my mind and my heart aches for those parents who are just hearing these words for the first time. My hope is that through the efforts of Hearts for Hanah, we can make, in whatever small way, the burden a little lighter to carry for those families.
Hanah is an amazing little lady. She possesses a passion to discover all the new things that the world has to offer. She has a tender heart and an amazing desire to help others who have special needs. She continues to encourage and inspire all those who know her.