UVU Digs deep for Young Cancer Patient

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A young Provo girl with brain cancer has become the focus of three charitable events to be held at UVU. The proceeds of ticket sales at the women’s soccer and volleyball games and a benefit concert put on by J.R. Richards, lead singer of Dishwalla, will go toward her recovery.

Hannah Laursen, a 9-year-old girl who was diagnosed with a brain cancer this last summer, is in good spirits despite undergoing three surgeries in one week, completing two rounds of chemotherapy and will finish her last radiation treatment this week.

UVU’s women’s Volleyball and Soccer teams have dedicated the proceeds of their next games to Hannah.

“We felt like this would be a good cause for the volleyball team to get involved with,” said Sam Atoa, head coach of the UVU Women’s volleyball team. “We are trying to raise as much money as possible for her recovery.”

The volleyball team will be taking pledges from spectators before its next game for every dig the team makes during the game. The team totals anywhere between 45 and 60 digs per game, which would result in $45 to $60 per person that pledges.

The volleyball team’s game on Oct. 23, against Houston Baptist, is when the dig-pledges for Hannah will be taking place. The fundraiser for Hannah is only a part of the “Pink With a Purpose” efforts of the UVU Women’s sports program during the month of October, which is also breast cancer awareness month.

The soccer team will be doing something similar with shots on goal taken by players during the game – pledges that are made before the game will be multiplied by the number of shots taken.

Doctors found a tumor on Hannah’s brain while she was visiting her grandmother in Florida over the summer. After complaining that she was having severe headaches, running a high fever and  vomiting frequently, the doctor decided to do a CT scan. The scan revealed a tumor which required immediate operation. The tumor was malignant and further treatments were necessary.

Hannah underwent three surgeries over the next six days. The surgeries went well and the mass was removed. She further underwent chemotherapy to ensure the cancer didn’t spread. In addition to the surgery and chemotherapy, she is now finishing up her last round of radiation this week. She is home now and regaining her strength.

“She is doing great right now,” said Craig Laursen, Hannah’s father. “But we are being cautious about the future.”

Because of the nature of the treatment, Hannah will be required to return to the doctor for MRIs every three months or so for the next couple of years, each test costing about $7,000, Laursen said. Though the donations thus far have helped make things a little more comfortable for Hannah and her family, there is no telling how much her continued treatment will cost in the future.

Even though Hannah is in the midst of recovering from her surgery and therapy, she was able to pay a visit to the women’s volleyball and soccer teams at UVU and share her story with them.

“We have been able to meet her,” Atoa said, “and the team has been touched by their time with her.”

“It really helped the girls put meaning into the project by being able to associate a face with the name,” said Brent Anderson, coach of the UVU women’s soccer team.

She loved visiting the teams and was happy to see that one of the women on the soccer team was close to her same size, Laursen said.

“You gotta kinda take one day at a time,” Laursen said. “The little things like that are always something that lifts your spirits, we know that those people care.”

The soccer and volleyball games will be played on Oct. 23 at UVU. The J.R. Richards concert will be held Oct. 26 in the Grande Ballroom in the Student Center.