Hannah Tate, an 18-year-old native of Alcoa, Tenn, is determined that cancer won’t stop her from achieving her goals. With focus, resolve and an upbeat spirit, she’s proof that the old adage is true: where there’s a will, there’s a way.
A member of her high school basketball team, Hannah was active and busy with senior activities, making plans for graduation and prom, when she learned last year that she had a rare form of kidney cancer called Wilms Tumor. Hannah was told that she’d have to leave home, put her plans on hold and travel hundreds of miles away to Memphis for treatment. Hannah was determined that despite being away from her school and friends, she would still graduate on time, with her classmates, and she would be there with them.
“School is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do while going through treatment,” Hannah said. “Some people back home asked why I didn’t just graduate next year and I said, ‘I’m not graduating next year without my classmates. I’m graduating with them.’ I worked hard all through high school and really wanted to do well in school and make my mom and everybody else proud of me.”
When graduation season rolled around, Hannah was not going to settle for “no” as an answer when she asked her doctors if she could go home for her own commencement ceremony. “They told me they were going to get me to graduation and they did. That made me really happy.”
“People really don’t understand what I’m going through at home, but here is a place filled with people going through the same thing as me. It’s nice to have other teenagers to talk to when I start to get a little stressed out. On top of that, groups come in to cook for us and the House staff set up trips to things out in town like Grizzlies games and go-kart tracks. Everyone here is like family.”
“Hannah is very outgoing and a great resource for other teens in the House,” Sherri Maxey, Director of House Operations said. “Despite her own battle with cancer, she’s a role model to other teens as well as the younger children. Her positive attitude and faith is contagious and it’s hard to be down when you’re around Hannah.”