Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Danielle Hater, 19, embodied courage

Overcame pain to join St. Ursula classmates

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nineteen-year-old Danielle Hater taught her family and friends a lesson in courage.

        For the past three years, the former St. Ursula Academy student battled a rare and painful bone cancer that required two 14-hour surgeries and months of chemotherapy.

        She did it with an even rarer grace and good humor.

        A fan of the TV show Survivor, Ms. Hater often quipped that she hoped to survive long enough to find out who would survive on the show.

        Ms. Hater died Friday at her home in Sayler Park.

        “Everybody thinks their child is special, but she was so courageous,” said her mother, Dianne Hater. “She made the doctors laugh even to the end.”

        The summer before her senior year, Ms. Hater was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the sacrum, a cancer in the bone at the base of the spinal column, just above the pelvis. The sacrum protects several central nerves.

        She immediately underwent six months of chemotherapy, then flew to New York in January 2000 for surgery. Half of her sacrum was removed during a 14-hour operation. That was followed two weeks later by six hours of reconstructive surgery. Then six more months of chemotherapy and rehab.

        In May of that year, Ms. Hater joined her classmates at graduation, although she did not receive a diploma.

        “It was so difficult for her,” said her mother. “She has been in so much pain. It was an extreme struggle; she was drugged up a little bit. But she went through graduation.”

        Last summer, Ms. Hater found out her cancer had returned.

        She flew back to New York on Sept. 11, but the plane had to turn around after the terrorist attacks.

        So the family drove to New York the following week, where Ms. Hater underwent another surgery similar to the first.

        Shortly afterward, the cancer metastasized to her lungs.

        Throughout her ordeal, Survivor was a distraction for Ms. Hater.

        So her father, Joe Hater, contacted former TV contestant Rodger Bingham of Crittendon, Ky., and asked if he would call her. Mr. Bingham not only called, he also visited Ms. Hater twice.

        Until the end, Ms. Hater was realistic about her illness, but determined to live every day to it's fullest.

        “She told me that she was a survivor,” said her father, “and that maybe she would not beat the cancer but she would not let it get the best of her and that she was going to last right to the end. And she did.”

        In addition to her parents, survivors include: a sister, Elizabeth M. Hater; and three grandparents, Marian and Donald Tischbein of Fort Thomas and Marie Hater of Bridgetown.

        Visitation is 10 a.m.-noon today followed by Mass of Christian burial at Our Lady of Visitation Church, 3172 South Road in Mack. Burial is at Bridgetown Cemetery.

        Memorials: Children's Hospital Medical Center Cancer Research, 3333 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati 45229.


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