Hope for Hannah

We began our 2018 cheer season excited to coach our little Kindergarten and 1st graders. As we met all the amazing families we would be working with in the season, we were personally touched and driven to help the Kaufman family. Matt and Suzi Kaufman, parents to our cheerleader Ella, shared that their daughter Hannah (currently grade 1) could not join Cheer with her sister Ella (kindergarten) this year as Hannah’s immunity was compromised from battling Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Matt and Suzi shared the battle they’ve faced as a family, and here we are now more determined than ever to support them! Their story has certainly touched us in so many ways, and I’m hopeful you will find it in your heart to support them too.

It was Good Friday and the Kaufman family went to church together. Hannah walked the halls with her Dad; she was complaining that her legs and ankles hurt. She would walk for a minute, then stop, ask to be carried, gather strength, and walk some more. By Easter Sunday morning, Hannah stopped walking altogether. They chalked it up to be a rolled ankle from dancing in heels a few days earlier. Determined to “make Easter Sunday work,” the kids were dressed, headed to church, and then to Nana and Papa’s for Easter Dinner.

Hannah wouldn’t walk all afternoon, so the decision was made to “go to the ER to get a boot put on Hannah’s foot.”

Within the 2 hour ER visit, the Kaufman family was told to prepare for the possibility that Hannah has cancer. After she was diagnosed in the ER, she was taken upstairs and admitted to the pediatric floor.

That night they met with the doctors and quickly realized what they were up against. The next morning a bone marrow and pediatric oncologist came in her room. They were able to carry her into the procedure room, laid her down, sang to her and watched her drift off with the anesthesia. They were told they would have the results by 3. At 9am they were given Hannah’s results. Hannah did in fact have leukemia. 

She began her first round of spinal chemotherapy the next day. Within 3 hours of her receiving chemotherapy she started walking again! What an answer to prayer! The Kaufman family wondered if they would ever see their sweet, beautiful and spunky little girl take another step. After that day Hannah began a 2 1/2 year "standard" treatment plan for her type of leukemia. Thankfully, their oncologist said she responded very well to the chemotherapy and they were encouraged. 

Hannah received blood transfusions, and an intense Chemotherapy schedule. She was on steroids, gained nearly 22lbs in less than 30 days, and was in so much pain and discomfort. She was on so many different medications everyday. In addition to taking care of Hannah, they were faced with trying to manage life and their other beautiful children. When Hannah was diagnosed, in addition to caring for her they also had a 6 year old, 2 year old, and 9 mo old baby girl to care for. They had  friends support them from day one with cleaning, meals, laundry, etc. They were truly blessed to have a community of helping hands.

Hannah has missed years of her friends, school, swimming, and anything else that might be able to pass a germ along. On the brighter side, she has spent incredible amounts of time with her parents and siblings. Hannah's immune system was compromised so the Kaufman family was forced to stay in their home when not at the hospital.

The Kaufman family had many challenges, hospital stays and behavioral issues; not just with Hannah but their oldest son started having major anxiety.  Every ache or upset tummy brought tears because he thought he too had cancer. The battles were ongoing physically, emotionally and financially.

Suzi said “After being in the midst of suffering, and watching a child suffer, I can tell you that for us, the fear or worry of [future] suffering is far worse than being in the midst of it. In the midst of suffering, there is grace, and peace and joy. This may seem foreign, but it has been true for our family.”

Although Hannah is thankfully doing great, she (like most other children post-chemotherapy) is facing alot of hurdles, from mental fog (a.k.a. "chemo brain") and cognitive issues, to ongoing monthly checkups at the oncology clinic. The family continues to face ongoing medical expenses that are not covered by insurance which are accumulating on top of balances left from her initial 2.5 year treatment. In addition there are significant dental bills because all of her medications have caused several cavities, root canals, and tooth extractions. There are costs of additional supplements to maintain Hannah’s immune system (vitamins, supplements, etc.) which are not covered by insurance as well. The list goes on.

On top of the medical expenses that continue to accumulate, Hannah is being home schooled this year because of cognitive side effects of chemotherapy (typically last around 2 years, but possibly longer), so they are also incurring expenses associated with her specialized education.

We as a community.... as parents.... as friends need to come together for the Kaufman family as they find hope in Hannah’s healthy future. When we asked Suzi how she was doing, She said “I’m doing okay. I’m finally on the other side and trying to figure it all out.” As you go through the battle, you don’t have time to realize how tired you are or think about the debt that comes with it. It’s when light begins to shine your way that you face the all that’s left on your plate. Join us in our efforts and find Hope for the Kaufman family.... help us in finding Hope for Hannah! Your donation, big or small, will make an incredible impact.
  • Joey Brancato 
    • $50 
    • 49 mos
  • Adam McReynolds 
    • $500 
    • 50 mos
  • Amanda McReynolds 
    • $500 
    • 50 mos
  • Brandi Venard 
    • $200 
    • 50 mos
  • Brianne Diprizio 
    • $100 
    • 50 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Hope for Hannah (3)

Marianna Cacucciolo-Spizzirri 
Raised $1,700 from 12 donations
Bartlett, IL
Suzanne Kaufman 
Rosa Cacucciolo 
Team member

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