Hanna Safley is an 18-year-old girl who was preparing for a number of upcoming milestones, including graduation, prom and her first semester of college in the fall. But when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on Thursday, the high schooler’s plans changed.
Her mother, Kelly Safley, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Hanna had previously been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was just 13 years old, and “powered through.” Still, the teen missed out on a lot through the two and a half years that she was going through treatment. With her latest cancer diagnosis, her mom decided that those losses couldn’t happen again.
“Hanna already had so much taken away from her and really, she had a second chance at life,” Kelly says. “It taught us a lesson. The lesson is that whatever we do, we’re gonna give her everything that we can and give her every experience, in spite of the stupid cancer and in spite of the diagnosis.”
So in spite of the devastating news, the family took their own advice, and with the help of their community organized a graduation for Hanna just two days after her diagnosis.
“I didn’t even know probably half of what was going on. I just knew my girlfriends said, ‘We’ve got this.’ And everybody went to work,” Kelly explains.
On Sunday, Hanna walked into the auditorium at Puyallup High School in Washington ready for a graduation ceremony to find that the room was nearly filled to its 600-person capacity. Some of those people were members of the school administration, who were there to give Hanna the real graduation she deserved.
“They had her award ceremony, where she got her ropes for her academics and the presidential achievement and then they actually did it. And they had her girlfriends walk up with her so that she wouldn’t be alone,” Kelly says. “I feel like what happened that Sunday is a miracle, really.”
But it wasn’t the only miracle to happen since the teen’s diagnosis. Kelly says that her daughter experienced even more joy alongside her friends when their parents put together a mock prom where she was able to get her hair and makeup done, put on her dress and take photos.
Kelly assures that both graduation and prom were important experiences for her daughter to have, although many teens take them for granted.
“This is what everybody lives for, right? I mean as a young person, as a child, as a teenager, as a high school student. That is one of those major milestones — graduation, prom. They talk about this for years,” Kelly says. “When this [diagnosis] happened right before her whole life was just about to blossom, all of these major, major milestones were ripped out from underneath her, just like that overnight. And it just isn’t fair. This is so important.”
And on Monday, the teen had another important task that she wanted to check off of her bucket list — dying her hair purple as a part of a promise that she made to herself in the case that she was ever diagnosed with cancer again.
“We are expecting that it’s gonna be fine in the end. But where we’re at right now is we have to make decisions to give her what she can experience right now and give her everything possible in this moment before we go into that treatment,” Kelly says. “Everything’s sort of coming together for Hanna to have these experiences before everything gets really, really rough.”
Despite the difficulty that lies ahead — including aggressive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant — Hanna’s friends and family are remaining hopeful. The family’s friends have even created a gofundme page to provide them with financial support.
“I have a vision, she’s gonna power through this,” Kelly says. “And next fall, she’ll be walking at the University of Washington.”
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