St. Mary’s Hannah Mulhern battles adversity to stay in the classroom and on the court


“I just came home from volleyball one night and I just all of a sudden felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat,” recalled St. Mary’s senior Hannah Mulhern.

In February of 2018, Mulhern knew something wasn’t right. Her sister urged her mom to immediately take her to the hospital. After bouncing from urgent care in Orchard Park to Oishei Children’s Hospital, Hannah and her family had an answer as to why her head had gone numb. 

“I had a tumor at the base of my brain,” said Hannah. “It was wrapped around part of my spine and tangled in an artery.”

Hannah went into surgery on her seventeenth birthday to remove the tumor. Doctors weren’t able to get all of it, so they scheduled a second surgery. Hannah, asked them to delay it for a much more pressing matter, her AP Exams.

“I had help from Mrs. Tyka, coming and meeting me every day teaching me AP Stats after my surgery,” said Hannah. “I’m like i did not make her go through all this, I did not go through all of this not to take my AP exams.”

It isn’t everyday you see a high school student asking to postpone brain surgery to take a test. But Hannah’s teacher and coaches know that’s just the type of person she is. 

“There’s a thousand adjectives that just show she has a gut spirit to survive,” noted Hannah’s volleyball coach Don Pieczynski. “She’s a survivor, shes a battler, she wont give in to even a serious illness and its an inspiration to everyone on the team.”

“As soon as i got out of the hospital from my second surgery, we had started open gyms for volleyball,” said Hannah. “So i had my mom wheel me in. I told my teammates if I was there, in a wheelchair, they better be there.” 

The senior has carried her 4.0 gpa even while missing months of school. And when she graduates this spring, she wants to study neuroscience. 

“I want to be able to help kids like my surgeons helped me at Children’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins, Buffalo General, they were all able to help me and I’d love to be able to do that some day” said Hannah.

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