Hannah Miller, Burkitt’s Lymphoma

13 Years Old at Diagnosis

Hannah MillerIn August of 2004 my 13 year old daughter won first place at the Junior Olympics for Olympic Style Weightlifting. On September 7, 2004 my husband and I were taken into a conference room at a children’s hospital and told that our daughter had stage IV cancer.

We then had to walk into her hospital and tell her the diagnosis.

The bad news was that it was a blood cancer that had spread to her abdomen, kidneys, ovaries, liver, bones, spinal fluid, and bone marrow. The “good” news was that it was highly treatable. She had a 70% chance of survival.

She endured 9 months of intense in-patient chemotherapy that would run up to 15 hours a day for 6 days in a row with multiple spinal taps to inject chemo directly into her spine. This was the “good” news treatment.

She will live with the repercussions of her treatments for the rest of her life. She has had ovarian failure and will be on supplemental hormones for the rest of her life. She no longer has B cells due to all of the experimental chemotherapy so she can’t be immunized and doesn’t have a fully functioning immune system. She will receive monthly infusions of donor antibodies for the rest of her life. She recently endured a 17 hour surgery to repair the damage done from the sinus surgeries during her fungal infection. She has had insomnia since treatment. Probably another hormonal issue, but we are still trying to figure that out. The emotional scars and lifelong anxiety from the experience and having known so many young friends who didn’t survive their diseases will last forever.

We are grateful every day for our miracle! However, it should not require a miracle for a child to survive.

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