KNOWN IN REAL LIFE AS:
OPTIC PATHWAY GLIOMA
Meet Hannah Strong at the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay
on September 29.
View a course map.
Meet Hannah Strong
Hannah Tringhese, Age 8, from Columbiana, Ohio
Why Hannah is an #ACHero: Hannah was diagnosed with optic pathway glioma when she was in kindergarten. The inoperable brain tumor took away her sense of smell and sight in her right eye, but it didn’t take away her vision of helping others. After 40 rounds of chemotherapy, hours of therapy, ongoing sessions with a tutor and a lot of prayers, Hannah’s tumor appears to be shrinking while her enthusiasm for helping others continues to grow.
Sidekicks: Her dog, Lily, Nurse Lucy and Dr. Sarah Rush
Super power: X-ray vision. Hannah knows first-hand that looking beyond the surface lies kindness, strength and courage in all of us. And, when you put it all to good use, you can overcome incredible obstacles.
When she’s not busy overcoming obstacles: Hannah enjoys playing softball, taking art classes and donating her time and gifts to others. Hannah’s non-profit organization, Hannah’s Vision, raises money to provide respite to families residing in northeast Ohio who have children in treatment for brain tumors.
Did you know fact: Hannah was just granted her Make a Wish® and is taking her family to Hawaii. They’ll get to stay at Aulani, a Disney resort, where her favorite character, Stitch, is known to make appearances.
Hannah’s story: When you see Hannah Tringhese wearing her signature purple glasses and a sweet smile, you’d never guess she’s a fighter and a philanthropist. In fact, for the past 2 years, she’s been courageously fighting a brain tumor while raising money to help families who find themselves in a similar situation.
For the 5 months leading to her brain tumor diagnosis, Hannah went to the doctor multiple times for symptoms that grew in severity – headaches, dizziness, vomiting and fevers at night. Then, one day at school, she slowly walked down the hall from her kindergarten class to her mom’s second grade classroom with her arms outstretched and unable to see much of anything.
“I was calling her name and she was following my voice,” Sarah Tringhese, Hannah’s mom recalled. “I got about 5 feet in front of her and she still couldn’t see me, so I knew something was definitely wrong.”
The Tringheses made an appointment to see a neurologist at Akron Children’s 3 days later.
Initially the neurologist suspected Hannah had multiple sclerosis, but more tests were needed. MRI results showed a large tumor in the center of her brain.
Because the tumor so abruptly took her vision, doctors were concerned it was aggressive. Surgeons needed to preform a very invasive biopsy, going through the nerves on her face, to determine how to treat the tumor. The procedure would permanently damage one of Hannah’s senses – her sense of smell or taste.
“At the time, we were preparing for the worst…so we had to make a difficult decision in order to learn more about the tumor and help Hannah,” Sarah said.
Doctors diagnosed Hannah with an optic pathway glioma. It started on the optic nerve of her right eye was spreading to the left. Although the tumor was inoperable due to its location, it wasn’t aggressive. Hannah started chemotherapy to try and keep the tumor from taking the vision in her left eye.
Hannah was scheduled for a 12-month cycle of 2 different types of chemotherapy. She’d go once per week for a few hours each time; 3 weeks on and 1 week off.
Fearful of going completely blind, Hannah learned to walk with a cane at age 6.
“She calls her cane ‘Whiskers’ because cats feel with their whiskers and she feels with her cane,” said Sarah.
Hannah’s experience with chemo was difficult. She was severely allergic to one treatment, became worn down emotionally and physically, and developed anticipatory nausea from anxiety and nerves that caused her to get ill just at the sight of the hospital.
“Nothing is easy about going through chemo, but the support you get from the nurses and staff is – they all catered directly to not only Hannah, but the whole family,” said Sarah.
Hannah formed a particularly strong bond with nurse Lucy Lawrence.
“She got her job done quickly, which helped Hannah relax. Lucy is now a part of the family…Hannah even has a shirt that says ‘I love Lucy,’” added Sarah.
In February 2017, 10 months after chemo began, Hannah’s check-up scans showed the cancerous cells in the tumor were shrinking, so her family decided to stop treatment early. More recent scans have continued to show promising results.
The sight in Hannah’s right eye has not returned, but a recent eye exam with Dr. Richard Hertle showed signs of detecting motion in the corner of the eye, so the family maintains hope. Hannah goes every 3 months for scans to check tumor growth.
To support the effects of chemo, Hannah, now 8, attends physical therapy to ward off memory loss and support the neuropathy in her hands and feet.
“Some days are harder for Hannah than others, but she always picks herself back and stays motivated by helping others,” said Sarah.