"When you see the light, think of me" -- Hannah
At 13, my beautiful daughter Hannah Duffy was a talented athlete, a loyal friend, and an adoring big sister.
Hannah began having seizures in July of 2012, and when our local hospital couldn't find anything wrong, we came to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
When CHOP oncologist Dr. Jean Belasco told Hannah she had a malignant brain tumor, my girl bravely prepared to fight. She was determined to live her best life with whatever time she had left, and Dr Belasco promised to help her do that.
The care Hannah received at CHOP--medical, spiritual, and emotional--made all the difference in her journey.
Our family is so grateful for your support of CHOP.
Soccer was everything to Hannah. She began chemotherapy, but refused a chemo port so she could keep playing. Three weeks into treatment, amid cheers of "Duffy is a toughie," she scored the winning goal in double overtime.
That was Hannah for you.
After that, Hannah underwent nine months of outpatient chemotherapy and radiation. She demanded spicy food on chemo days. She cuddled her little brother Robbie. She laughed and she made us laugh.
Then her aggressive brain tumor returned with a vengeance, landing her back at CHOP with no further treatment options.
I'll never forget the day CHOP Chaplain Laura Palmer met with us. Hannah was very sick but, as always, she wanted to face her situation head on. She asked, "Will everyone forget me when I die?"
Laura told Hannah she made such a big impact on her family and friends that no one would forget her. "Because," she said, "when you love someone deeply, you live in that love forever."
Hannah asked, "Will people be disappointed? I was supposed to beat cancer."
The chaplain told Hannah, "You have beaten cancer, by not letting it touch your spirit. Every day you inspire others by not letting fear hold you back, by living life on your own terms."
It was the truth. And Hannah felt much better. So did I.
Soon after, Hannah asked to go home. On that day, hundreds of our Tinton Falls, NJ friends and neighbors lined our street to give her a hero's welcome.
Hannah being Hannah, she gave assigments to her survivors. Her friends were to wear pink high heels with a silver H on the soles to her wake. She asked them to embroider her name on their wedding dresses so she could be there in spirit.
She loved sunbeams and said, "When you see the light, think of me."
Hannah lived, with help from hospice, for five more weeks. She died on September 26, 2013, and her memory shines brightly for all of us who loved her.
Some cancers still can't be beaten. But although our story didn't end up the way we wanted, CHOP provided Hannah--and our family--with the best possible care in every way.
Please accept my family's heartfelt thanks for your support of CHOP, and my best wishes for a holiday season filled with love and light.
For the love of Hannah,
Included with my letter is a blue star, intended to be placed on an electric candle to shine 'CHOP blue' during the holiday season. Many of the buildings in the city of Philadelphia will be lit up blue during the holiday season, specifically during December 14-16, as part of the Season of Light campaign, all of which has been inspired by our Hannah. We will be going down to Philadelphia during that time to see the light displays in person....in some small way it will allow us to feel closer to Hannah. I just know she wouldn't miss seeing the city lit up in blue, all inspired by her love and her light. Pretty awesome if you ask me....
Please take a moment and send a child a special note this holiday season from the link below....it doesn't cost a thing, but will surely lift the spirits of a child in the hospital.
And, for this holiday season, if you're thinking about making a donation for a good cause, please consider making a donation directly to CHOP in memory of our Hannah during this "Season of Light".
"Live with No Regrets, Love with Compassion, Be Kind, and Never Ever Give up that Fighting Spirit"