PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — Hannah Wertens has been singing and dancing since she could talk.
“I put on fashion shows and performed,” the Portsmouth teen said, peaking out from under her pink wool cap on crisp day in her front yard. “I love singing. It makes me feel free and able to express myself in a way I don’t know how else I could.”
At 14, she strives to express those passions on stage and has already performed in a number of plays, as she dreams about blossoming into a professional actress and singer someday.
“I’ve had all different kinds of roles,” she added. “I love exploring all different types of music and comedy and serious shows too.”
As a toddler, a limp sent her to the doctor. After a half-dozen visits, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, also known as ALL. Her little body fought it off with about two and half years of chemotherapy.
But at 6 years old, there was a relapse that prompted a bone marrow transplant.
“I know this is only temporary.”
A song that the All Saints Academy eighth grader wrote during a more recent stint in the hospital sums up how she was able to beat ALL.
“It’s called Nothing Lasts Forever,” she said, unfolding a piece of paper with the lyrics. “It’s about how no matter how hard something might be, it will get better.”
Her perseverance showed over the next seven years. She got healthier and stronger, singing and acting as much as possible along the way.
Her mom, Debbe Kirchner, who calls her youngest Hannah Banana, said the end of that healthy run was difficult to take.
“It came out of nowhere,” said Kirchner.
Last summer, in what Hannah’s mom called a one-in-a-million medical shock, the bone marrow transplant brought on Acute Myeloid Leukemia, known as ALM.
So, Hannah had a second bone marrow transplant in October.
Three bouts with leukemia, two bone marrow transplants and now another recovery within about 10 years would be a lot for anyone.
But the sparkling little star is still smiling, even as she takes seemingly endless medications.
“I’ve been up to like 90 pills a day,” she said, while swallowing her morning doses. “And I have to take like four shots a day.”
Still, under that pink hat and behind her bright smile, there’s great optimism. Because, as her song says: nothing lasts forever.
“100 percent!” she said when asked if she’ll beat ALM the way she beat ALL. “I know this is only temporary.”