PUTNEY -- Mark Green says his daughter's most common sentence as an young child was, "I do it myself, daddy."
And about a decade and a half later, 17-year-old Hannah Green still takes matters into her own hands and is now pursuing an adventure in hopes of raising money that could help save her father's life. Mark is battling brain cancer, which he was diagnosed with in July 2011, and Hannah will soon add climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to her growing list of efforts to help him.
Hannah, a senior at Northfield Mount Hermon in Northfield, Mass., plans to journey to Tanzania with a group of experienced mountaineers associated with the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where her father has received treatment. She told the Reformer she learned of the event, called Reach For the Peaks, while interning at the cancer center while it was being planned.
"I was in the office overhearing all of this and I spent a lot of time on the website and I thought it was really cool," she said. "I'm really excited for it. It's going to be totally different from anything I've ever done before. This is my first time to Africa."
She departs on Christmas for two days of travel followed by eight days of hiking. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and considered the tallest free-standing one in the world. Hannah needs to raise $10,000 to get to Tanzania and has so far generated $5,750, according to her personal Reach For The Peaks page.
She said people can also purchase ribbons that she will bring to the top of Kilimanjaro in honor of someone affected by cancer.
But this isn't the first thing Hannah has done to help her father. She started mobilizing her classmates in terms of a cancer support team on campus for her father and numerous fundraisers to benefit cancer patients immediately after the diagnosis. The proceeds of the fundraisers went to a local cancer center the first year and a camp for terminally ill children the second. Hannah also is trying to start up a café on campus with all proceeds going to cancer research.
None of this comes as a shock to Mark, who told the Reformer his daughter has always been able to take care of business.
"The minute (the diagnosis came), I think Hannah's fight mentality kicked in for all of us. ... This is a girl that has always been a self-starter and tenacious with her dreams," he said. "She's a go-getter. She gets the big picture and she's hungry. She was born that way."
Hannah's mother, Laura Gaudette, said her daughter's trip is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
"She's 17, but she's always stretching and reaching and pushing boundaries. She makes things happen when she wants them to happen," she said, adding that Hannah has proven her capability by hiking the Green and White mountain ranges in the past.
When she is not on campus, Hannah splits time living with her mom in Putney and her dad in Walpole, N.H.. Though they are no longer married, both parents have remained close friends.
Mark Green told the Reformer brain cancer is a rare form of the disease, consisting of just 2 percent of all cases even though there are 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumors. He said there are more than 600,000 people in America living with brain tumors. Mark has had 33 radiation treatments and five brain surgeries to date and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
Hannah describes the day as if it happened last week. Everyone thought her father was having a heat stroke before an MRI revealed the cancer.
"It was definitely really intense but he is a really optimistic person," she said. "It hasn't been destructive to our family or torn us apart, but it was definitely a bump in the road."
After being diagnosed, Mark left his job at the Putney School and began working with Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, a Washington D.C.-based organization that drives cutting-edge research and treatments for brain cancer, where he is the vice president for strategic partnerships. He told the Reformer he works mostly from home but is on the road at least once a month meeting with brain cancer survivors and their families.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.