10-Year-Old Girl With Breast Cancer Looking on the Bright Side

10-Year-Old Girl With Breast Cancer Looking on the Bright Side

It took all of 10 minutes for Hannah Powell-Auslam to lose her hair, a pre-emptive strike against the chemotherapy that would have taken it anyway.

The Fullerton, Calif., 10-year-old, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, has had a mastectomy and been through her first chemo treatment.

And, after a few tears, she's trying to make the best of her new buzz cut.

"I always try to look on the bright side with everything," Hannah said today in a "Good Morning America" exclusive interview.

Such spunk is typical for Hannah, who is one of the few hundred children to ever have this kind of cancer.

"You feel like you're sick all the time," Hannah said of the effects of her chemotherapy. "You just want to go lay in bed and be in your closed-off little box."

Click here to read Hannah's family's blog.

Because mainstream breast cancer treatments were developed for adults (an estimated 180,000 women will be diagnosed this year), Hannah's chemotherapy must be tailored to her small size. "I feel like a kid inside, but sometimes I feel like an adult when I was at the hospital," Hannah said.

Hannah's mother Carrie Auslam told "Good Morning America" that the day her daughter was diagnosed has been the worst moment of this journey. Hannah had complained about an itch on her side and when Auslam looked, she felt a lump.

Doctors assured her it couldn't possibly be breast cancer, until the biopsy came back.

"She cried for about three minutes and she's had a couple of moments," Auslam said of her daughter. "But she stood up after we talked and she goes, 'Let's do it.'"

Dr. Marisa Weiss, president and founder of Breastcancer.org and author of the book "Taking Care of Your 'Girls': A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens (2008)," said there's a concern about pollutants, pesticides and hormones in certain foods and drinks and their effects on breast-cell growth.

"It is extremely rare to have breast cancer in a 10-year-old girl and we don't know exactly why this would happen," she said. "We think that estrogen ... has to play a role."

So, as Hannah began treatment, her family threw her a party to say good bye, for now, to her hair. Her family applauded and, in solidarity, her father, grandfather and little brother all got buzz cuts as well.

"It hurt," her mother said. "She shouldn't have to do it. I've told her a thousand times, 'I wish I could take it away from you. I really do.'"

Hannah's Cancer a Scary Diagnosis

Regardless of the kind, cancer is a heavy diagnosis to handle for a child Hannah's age, noted Lillie Shockney, administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center in Baltimore.

"This is the youngest case I've ever heard of," Shockney said. "I find for youngsters at this age it's best to not be focusing on the kind of cancer it is, but that it is cancer and that surgery and other treatment are needed.

"It's hard enough for adults to get their heads around breast cancer, much less a child."

What's more, Shockney said, it's inadvisable for parents to believe breast cancer is a major risk for their young daughters.

"I don't want the outcome to be that mothers are panicked across the country wanting to have their daughters in elementary and middle and high school to get mammograms or even clinical breast exams," Shockney said. "This is a highly unusual situation."

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