The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

Fifth grader beats rare brain tumor

By Heather Whitty | Managing Editor of Copy


Fifth grader Hannah Mork’s family estimates she is about one in 14 million.

When she was 10 years old, Hannah was diagnosed with Germinoma of the pituitary gland and cerebral stalk. This diagnosis was a breakthrough for her dad Richard, mom Ling, and sister Jodi Mork, a junior. They had been looking for answers for years.

When Hannah was in second grade, she began having issues with her water intake and would go to the bathroom up to 20 times a day. It was clear something was wrong.

“I went to the bathroom a lot and I got up at night about five to 15 times and I started almost falling asleep in school because I got really tired from staying up,” Hannah said.

According to Ling, Hannah would refuse food and only took in liquids.

“Her body was telling her she’s dying of thirst so she would only drink, she wouldn’t eat,” Ling said.

The Morks sought medical help and diagnosis, but doctors had difficulty finding a cause for Hannah’s symptoms.

“She was getting enough nutrition to keep her brain healthy and she didn’t have any other symptoms,” Ling said. “If she’d had more symptoms, they would have been able to diagnose her.”

Because Hannah’s problems seemed to be coming from the urinary tract, she was taken to a specialist in Portland. The specialist found that Hannah’s body was not taking in liquids as it should have been.

“She basically was urinating plain water,” Ling said. “She did not absorb anything, it just went right through her.”

The specialist found the problem was not coming from the kidneys or the bladder, so it was deduced something was wrong with Hannah’s brain.

Answers were found when Hannah had an MRI, which showed a tiny spot on the pituitary gland. She also had a tumor on her cerebral stalk.

“They saw that my blood cells were kind of going against each other, and I was kind of lacking in some stuff that I need, and I took in a lot of water instead of taking in any food,” Hannah said.

Hannah’s diagnosis was the breakthrough her family had been looking for.

“When she was diagnosed, it was actually kind of a little bit of a relief that we finally knew what was wrong with her, because for a long time we hadn’t known what was going on. For us to finally actually know and it be something treatable was a little bit of a relief, but still kind of scary,” Jodi said.

After Hannah was diagnosed, her doctors came up with a treatment plan. She went through about two months of chemotherapy at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland followed by a month of daily radiation.

Ling said the treatment was hard on the whole family.

“Jodi’s not very talkative so she almost shut down, and Hannah was angry because she was in a lot of pain,” Ling said.

Ling said the hardest part for her and her husband was trying to split their time between home, the hospital and work.

“You feel like you’ve lost one child to the disease and then you feel like you lose the other child because you’re not there for her. It was really hard because Jodi, who’s always been a good kid, now has problems in school,” Ling said. “It’s not really fair for her, but there’s not much I could do. I had to work to pay the bills and I have to be up there for treatment.”

Although treatment was hard, Hannah found different ways to get through it. One strategy she used was listening to music.

“I listened to a lot of Lady Gaga music while I was doing treatment because when I was doing radiation I wasn’t allowed to have anyone in the room,” Hannah said.

Though the treatments were painful, they paid off. After her radiation was over, Hannah’s scans showed her tumors were gone.

“I didn’t have to puke anymore or sit in a small room, and I didn’t have to travel to see my family,” Hannah said.

While the tumors are gone as of now, the family still travels to Portland every three months for Hannah’s MRI to be sure she is clear.

After everything they have been through with Hannah’s cancer, Ling feels it has given her a greater appreciation of her family and their life together.

“Sometimes bad things happen to make you realize how good your life is,” Ling said.

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Fifth grader beats rare brain tumor