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Local Ballerina Gives Back

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It is no ordinary performance of “The Nutcracker.” It’s a way for a lifelong ballerina to give back.

She remembers how hard it was to be sick during the holidays.

However, the best part about performing this special show at Children’s Hospital?

“Seeing the children smile,” Hannah Hathaway said.

“I love that she came up with this idea and that she wanted to give back to the hospital that took care of her,” Kelly Hathaway, her mother, said.

Hannah was just five-years-old when she was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, a type of cancer in the kidney.

“It was nothing we expected, there were no signs, we were angry, we were bitter, we just didn’t know how this could possibly be happening,” Kelly said.

She had no symptoms. It was found, by luck, on an MRI done for other reasons in this little girl born with only one kidney.

“What it was, was a tumor that had arisen from the remnant of the kidney that never developed. So, it was a very unusual case. And it was unusual because we sort of found it by serendipity,” Hannah’s surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dr. Barbara Gaines said.

Over the next year, she had surgery and drugs to kill the cancer.

“It was grueling for her. It was grueling for us not knowing what was going to happen,” Kelly said. “Each day gets a little bit better, and each appointment where things are clear, we feel a little bit better.”

This type of tumor is thought to start even before a baby is born, from immature kidney cells that essentially, don’t grow up. They divide out of control into a cancer. It’s often not found until a child is three or four-years-old.

Hannah is now 10 and she’s made a complete turnaround.

“She can expect a normal life span at this point,” Dr. Gaines said.

“I hope that she’s healthy, and I hope that she’s happy,” her mother said. “And I hope that she does everything she wants to in life.”

Watching her dance now, everyone can see how lucky she is.

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