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Hannah Gallant, who was 9 when she was diagnosed, inspires others to get behind the blood cancer cause

After her final treatment in November, Hannah Gallant will go back to being a normal kid again with support from her family, including her mother, Tammy (right) and her doctors.MIKE CAPSON

Last June, while she was still undergoing treatment for leukemia, Hannah Gallant started a lemonade stand to help raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. The isolation of being in treatment away from friends, school and family motivated her idea to do something that could save other children from this terrible disease.

It all started when Hannah had just finished Grade 3 in her hometown of Quispamsis, N.B. (about 20 minutes from Saint John) when she started to experience flu-like symptoms in the middle of August. Her mother, Tammy Gallant, was puzzled. There were also aching joints, unexplained sores and nosebleeds. She had already taken her daughter to the doctor twice and everything seemed fine. By the end of August, Hannah developed a lump on her nose overnight. Eventually, at IWK Health Centre, a hospital in Halifax, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer in which the bone marrow produces too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).

The diagnosis turned Hannah’s world upside down. She had to miss most of Grade 4 because the chemotherapy she was undergoing made her feel sick and the risk of infection attending school would be too great. She had a tutor, but it wasn’t the same as being at school. She missed her friends. Hannah said she felt lonely. “Even if my mom was beside me, I felt like I was in a box, like a million miles away from her,” Hannah explains. “I felt like I needed to be beside her and my dad at all times.”

When Hannah’s aunt, Mangella Green, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Hannah, while still in treatment, was there to provide support, reassuring her that everything would be okay. Hannah was very attentive and caring toward her aunt, so it was no surprise to her mom when she suggested starting a lemonade stand in hopes of donating to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC). After her mom contacted the local Sobeys, the grocery store provided all the lemonade and cups needed, and in addition gave her a professionally made lemonade stand. Over the span of two days, Hannah raised $1,150.

Last June, Hannah decided to start a lemonade stand to help raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

The family’s dedication to finding a cure for blood cancers inspired their entire community, leading to its first Light the Night Walk event in support of LLSC, which netted more than $20,000 in donations. Those funds will help children like Hannah with leukemia and lymphoma, which account for over 40 per cent of all new cancers diagnosed in children 0-14 years.

In November, Hannah will have her last treatment. She’s looking forward to that and to being able to enjoy life as a Grade 6 student. Thanks to research advances, Hannah and most kids with leukemia will survive. And despite experiencing persistent long-term effects of treatment, they’ll be able to thrive and be normal kids again.


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