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UCSD doctor, England family collaborate to find cure to child brain tumors

Hannah Meeson was only 4-years-old when she was diagnosed with high risk anaplastic medulloblastoma.

SAN DIEGO — September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. A family living in England connected with a doctor in San Diego to work together from across the globe to find a cure to childhood brain cancers.

Hannah Meeson was only 4-years-old when she was diagnosed with high risk anaplastic medulloblastoma, which is the most common type of cancerous brain tumor in children.

Gaylene Meeson, Hannah's mother, says Hannah had surgery followed by 31 sessions of radiation to her brain and spine along with chemotherapy.

"I can't describe how grueling and awful it was. She stopped eating and vomited all the time. Radiation caused burns to her head. It was the most traumatic two years," said Gaylene.

Although Hannah is now cancer free, she suffers from side effects from her treatment.

"I'm feeling excited because I’m going back to school tomorrow," said Hannah, looking on the bright side as she often does.

"She is doing great. She’s got no balance. One ear is gone, one eye is gone, but you’re a survivor aren’t you?" Gaylene said, looking over towards Hannah.

Gaylene started fundraising and that is how she connected with Dr. Lukas Chavez, a UCSD assistant professor. 

He received a $115,000 grant from St. Baldrick's foundation, a childhood cancer charity, to research medulloblastoma.

"We can identify circular DNA and we want to explore treatments of DNA circles and treat the tumors in the future," said Dr. Chavez.

This is the first time they are all meeting face to face over Zoom.

"This flower was painted by Hannah, and it has a thank you note painted by Hannah when she was 12. Thank you again," said Dr. Chavez, as he held up a framed painting. 

They are encouraging others to donate money or shave their heads to raise awareness for childhood cancer.

"I'm shaving my head for the 10th time on Friday," said Gaylene.

And help kids like Hannah, who had less than a 5% chance of surviving.

Sunday was Hannah’s birthday. She turned 15.

"Happy birthday," claps Dr. Chavez.

"Thank you," replies Hannah.

"She doesn’t let it stop her living her life and raising money for research while making it better for kids diagnosed in the future," said Gaylene.

Gaylene is involved in an annual fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s and also started a Hero fundraiser. She says they have raised $2.6 million since they started. 

This year, they have raised $72,0000 and their goal is $250,000.

WATCH RELATED: St. Jude Walk/Run | Helping Cure Childhood Cancer (September 2022)

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