My name is Hannah Gallant. I am an 11 years old from Quispamsis, New Brunswick Canada. In August 2016, after several trips to the doctor and the hospital because I wasn’t feeling well, my parents brought me to the hospital for blood work. I wasn't worried, because I thought it was just growing pains. We got the results that same day, my parents found out it was a form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (AML). They didn’t tell me until the final diagnosis took place at the IWK. I was very worried, and even though I didn't know what leukemia was.
I spent the night at the Saint John Regional Hospital and the next morning I was rushed to the IWK. I was kept there for two long weeks. I had to go through lots of surgeries and procedures and I started chemo right away. It was the worst two weeks of my life. I felt very sick and spent most days in bed. My family was always there with me, I met a lot of awesome people during my time at the IWK. I was finally able to go home on September 13.
Things changed, everyone was bringing us gifts and food; it made everything a bit easier, but it also reminded me that I was sick. The most difficult part was the day I was doing my morning routine of brushing my hair, there was a big clump of hair in my brush. Then the next day, there was even more, so I decided to shave my head. Being bald made me feel I wasn't normal and I stood out from everyone else. I didn't want to be different, I just wanted to be a normal nine year old girl. I missed most of my grade four school year, when I was able to go it was only for couple days a week. I had a tutor at my house to help me keep up with my work, I didn't like that at all. I just wanted to go to school and be with my friends.
My blood counts were up and down low at the beginning it was easy for me to get sick, once in a while I could have a friend over. Finally, my blood counts started to come up and I could go places like the mall, the grocery store or other friends’ houses, and the best part was that I could go to school! When I hung out with all my friends it took my mind of everything I was going through. I coped with this journey by giving back- along with the help of my community and family we planned several fundraisers, Orange Day at Schools, Selling Freezes, Orange Hockey Games, we also organized the first Light The Night Walk in Quispamsis, NB- we raised almost $20,000- it was a huge success and it is something we would like to continue. I am now in what's called maintenance of my treatment plan, my hair is growing back and I go to school almost every day, I play hockey, go to Girl Guides and dance. I feel pretty good most days, but I am REALLY looking forward to November 2018- this is when I finish all my treatments and I can be a normal 11 year old. Thank you for letting me share my story.