Hannah Aldrich’s journey with her mom’s cancer experience
September 23, 2016
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Hannah Aldrich Feature
March 19, 2015-A day that turned 2016 junior homecoming candidate Hannah Aldrich’s life upside down, as she found out her mother, Mary Schenck, had been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Aldrich was in Chicago on her freshman year choir trip, but did not receive the news until she came home, her mom wanting to tell her in person.
Around six months before, Schenck went to the doctor to investigate what she thought might be an issue, but was told that it was not cancerous, and that everything was okay. However, when she went back six months later, she was diagnosed with cancer.
Not long after the diagnosis, Schenck began treatment on April 20, starting chemotherapy from that date until Aug. 24, near the beginning of Aldrich’s sophomore year of high school. Schenck also had surgery on Oct. 2, and the high school volleyball team had a “pink out” game in honor of her and all breast cancer awareness on Oct. 6. During the process, Aldrich was confused about what was happening to her mom and why it had to be happening and affecting her mom and her family as a whole.
“When my mom was going through chemo, I didn’t really know what to do at the time, because I really didn’t know how to handle it all, and I was just kind of clueless about what to do and just really confused about why my mom had to get breast cancer and why we were having to go through all this,” Aldrich said.
During the whole period, Aldrich relied on God, friends and extended family to get her through and show her what she meant to them. Before the process, her and her step dad, Matt Schenck, had yet to build the relationship that Aldrich wanted, but things changed over those several months.
“Me and my step dad definitely grew closer during this time, because we would always help my mom out together and just try to think of things to cheer her up and make her day a little bit better,” Aldrich said. “That whole year was really good for me and my dad in building our relationship, but it was still so tough for us seeing someone we both loved so much go through such pain.”
Following the chemotherapy in Bartlesville, Matt and Mary Schenck moved down to Houston on Nov. 1, and rented an apartment while Mary received treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Treatment and Cancer Research Center, one of the most highly touted and well trusted places in the world for cancer patients. Mary’s radiation treatment began a day after they arrived in Houston, on Nov. 2. During the time that Aldrich’s parents were in Houston, she lived with her grandparents in Bartlesville.
When Thanksgiving Break arrived, Aldrich got the opportunity to go down to Houston for the week with her sister Shiloh, her step sister Callie, and both sets of her grandparents to visit her mom during the radiation process. While in Houston, she got the relief of seeing her mom for the first time in several weeks, seeing the people and machines that took care of her mom, visiting with her parents and hanging out with her family in general.
“When I was there we didn’t do much,” Aldrich said. “I went and got to visit the hospital, which was actually pretty cool because I got to meet a lot of my mom’s nurses and got to see the machines and all of that. You could really tell that they really cared about my mom and were really concerned about getting her healthy and better.”
Aldrich can vividly remember what it was like to get away from school and see what her mom was going through, and seeing all the processes’ made a fully different impact on her life and made her view about what was going on all the more clear.
Throughout the process of chemotherapy at home in Bartlesville and radiation in Houston, there were tough times for Schenck through a lot of pain and tough emotions.
“It was definitely an emotional roller coaster for my mom,” Aldrich said. “There were some days she just wanted to give up, but I just had to keep telling her that she couldn’t give up and I really needed her.”
After a long and grueling process that was nine months long, Mary Schenck got the news she and everyone in her family had been longing to hear, that she was finally cancer free. She got the news on Dec. 20, exactly eight months after her first chemotherapy treatment. On the final day after the cancer free news, she got to ring the bell at the hospital, which signifies the end of radiation treatment. Next, she got to call her daughter Hannah for a joyous moment.
“She called me up and was like ‘Hannah, Hannah you won’t believe it!’ Tears came streaming down my face, I couldn’t even handle it, I was so joyful in that moment and just praised God,” Aldrich said.
Since the day of joy of the cancer-free moment, Schenck has been helping other people and other families dealing with similar situations to what she dealt with, and trying to positively impact their situation and their life. She has been involved with Hopestone-a cancer support group located in downtown Bartlesville- volunteering there and helping other families.
“I am really proud of my mom for helping out at Hopestone and turning her pain and sorrow into joy and help for other families,” Aldrich said.
The process has been a long one for Aldrich, her parents, and all those around her, but the situation has been an eye-awakening one that has brought them all closer together as a family and has shown them the importance of family life and the love for each other, something Aldrich knows well.
“It is really hard to stay positive throughout this life, but we need to have faith and hope in God and trust that the people around us can help us to get us through these hardships we are going through no matter what it is.”