Hannah Reeves has plans to be a pediatric surgical oncologist
Eighteen-year-old Hannah Reeves of Cedar Grove is elated to have reached the first of her determined educational
goals in order to become a pediatric surgical oncologist.
But the road to attaining that goal has not been an ordinary or easy one as she was diagnosed with acute
lymphoblastic leukemia during her sophomore year of school. She has at least one more year remaining on her
three-year treatment plan.
But that has not deterred this young woman from setting goals as to her future and sticking to them.
Her planned goal could mean as many as 14 years into the future.
“Right now it doesn’t bother me that it’s so many years,” she said.
She is to start classes Aug. 18 at UT – Knoxville with Pre-Med as her major and Spanish as her minor.
She knows that it will mean four years of undergraduate studies, four years in medical school at Memphis, one
year as an intern and five years of residency.
She graduated with distinction from Huntingdon High School in a non traditional ceremony due to the
coronavirus pandemic on May 18 at Paul Ward Stadium.
Graduating with distinction means that certain criteria was met. Grades of B average or better must be made along
with certain other stipulations. She had dual class enrollment in English, history and psychology.
School was dismissed on March 18 with no returning until graduation which was supposed to have taken place on
May 17, but due to a rainstorm it didn’t happen until the next evening.
“I said, ‘Oh no, you have to be kidding me when it was postponed.”
She received the Hope, Huntingdon Alumni and Fuller Strong Scholarships.
While in her sophomore year of high school, she was a highly active teen participating in various activities –
never anticipating that cancer was about to become a part of her life.
She maintained her classes and was in karate, played the trumpet in the high school band and in the concert band.
During that time, she developed a bump on top of her head that sometimes gave her headaches. The lump
continued to grow and became really painful.
She saw a number of doctors. An appointment was made for surgery and nothing was thought to be amiss.
However, once in surgery, doctors discovered that the bump was attached to her skull and was indeed cancerous.
“It was very devastating news when they told me and I began to cry,” said Hannah who recalled the exact date as
being March 16, 2018.
It was just as devastating to her parents, Kevin and Natalie Tegethoff, who are actually Hannah’s grandparents.
Hannah’s mother was killed in a traffic accident when Hannah was four years old. Hannah’s sister, Libby, 22, has
just graduated from UT Knoxville and is going to law school.
“I have always encouraged them to do what their heart told them to do,” said Natalie.
Although, Hannah has been through so much, but she still remains courageous and positive, says her mom.
By the next Monday following the diagnosis, Hannah was at St. Jude Children’s Hospital for treatment. Doctors
performed a biopsy and drew 14 tubes of blood the first day.
“They did a port with her first chemo treatment being on March 23,” said her mom. “It turned out her bone
marrow was 66 percent cancerous.”
She was hospitalized for five days and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for 12 weeks. She received one
treatment a day.
“I felt so terrible,” said Hannah. “I was just about out of it.”
She had to return every two days and have immunotherapy. The last two years she has continued to have chemo
treatments as well as oral chemo.
She had a teacher at St. Jude for the remainder of her sophomore year. For the first half of her junior year, she had
a homebound teacher and didn’t return to school until April of her junior year.
Her cancer is considered in the maintenance stage at present. Treatments will continue until at least Feb. 11, 2021.
Raising Funds for St. Jude
Hannah has raised more than $6,500 for St. Jude since her diagnosis.
The family is sold on St. Jude and its treatment and care for the families it serves. Families never receive a bill
from the hospital.
Hannah and her father and mother are thankful for the hospital, their honesty and treatment.
“I am so proud of her for wanting to give back,” said Natalie.
Hannah made bracelets and stickers for parents of the children in treatment.
She made and sold over 1,000 chocolate-covered strawberries.
She raised $1,500 for Keshaun Phillips for his Make-A-Wish. He later died from his cancer.
Participated in Lights, Camera, Fashion
Another exciting moment for Hannah was her participation at Lights, Camera, Fashion (LCF), a Jackson-based
program for juniors and seniors to model prom dresses and to raise money for St. Jude.
But it almost didn’t happen.
A couple of weeks before the program in Feb., 2019, Hannah’s leg became swollen, but she didn’t think much
about it and continued to decorate for her birthday party.
But as fate would have it, she became unable to breathe and walk. It was discovered at a local emergency room
that she had fell victim to a massive blood clot and pulmonary embolisms.
It was serious enough that doctors confirmed that if the blood clot had broken loose and traveled to her heart it
could have killed her.
Her parents feared for her life.
She was airlifted to St. Jude and stayed in the ICU for five days and was in surgeries for three days.
Hannah was upset that she would not be able to participate in LCF program. However, she did manage to make it
as she was escorted on stage.
This year she modeled her long red ball gown as one of 40 girls.
She sent out letters asking for donations. Although, she raised $6,500, she only had a goal of $2,000.
She was also privileged to wear that dress again as Huntingdon High School rescheduled their Junior-Senior Prom
which was held June 11.
Hannah says she is looking forward to the future and getting on with her life. She doesn’t look back on the
sufferings she’s been through for the last couple of years as totally bleak. She considers it as a learning tool on how
to be compassionate and helpful to those going through difficult times.
As she prepares to embark upon her college years she is encouraged by being able to do so.
“I plan to stay in East Tennessee and practice there,” she said. “I want to perform biopsies for cancer on newborns
up to 18 years old.”