Deputy’s daughter in remission after battle with rare, aggressive cancer 

Hannah Freitas heard the words on the phone – she just wasn’t sure she fully believed them. 

“She said that there are no signs of cancer on the scans,” Freitas said. “I didn’t really know what to do … it didn’t feel real.” 

That morning, Freitas had gone to her doctor for a PET scan in relation to the diagnosis she had received in August of 2023: small cell carcinoma of the ovary hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT), a very aggressive and very rare cancer. At just 24 years old at the time, Freitas was told this diagnosis carried a life expectancy of just 14 months.   

Less than eight months later, instead she has learned her cancer is in remission.   

“I’d never gone for a PET scan before. I had no idea what to expect,” Freitas said. “So I wasn’t really thinking there would be any news there. When (the doctor) called me later that day, she said she always saves her best news for the end of the day to end on a good note (and she delivered the news).   

“I just asked, ‘Really? Can I say the word ‘remission?’” 

Doctors first discovered signs of the cancer when an emergency room visit to address a persisting pain in her stomach revealed Freitas’ problem was likely something much more than a typical stomach issue. 

A tumor was removed just two weeks later and local area doctors had to send samples off to be reviewed and tested at a Northeast hospital, as Hannah’s tumor appeared to be so uncommon most local physicians had not seen a case of it locally before. It was later classified as SCCOHT. There are no established standard treatments for SCCOHT, and most patients are treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. 

Hannah Freitas with mother Melissa

While Freitas is still weakened by her battle – she needs a walker and wheelchair to move currently as her body strengthens – she’s excited to be able to look ahead at the life in front of her. 

“I should be able to do things again that I thought I might never be able,” she said. “I’m a flute player and that’s something I haven’t been able to do … music is a huge part of my life and that being taken from me bothered me a lot. That I can possibly do that and a lot of other things again, it’s motivating. 

“I’m still processing everything, honestly. It’s been about two weeks since the news and I’ve still kind of not been believing it.” 

This was the second time cancer has affected her family. Freitas lost her father, who passed away nearly 15 years ago following his own battle with the illness.   

She knew some of what to expect. Other things she was far from ready for.   

“It’s been a lot (to deal with),” Freitas said. “I’ve had my deal with cancer before – my dad went through it. I had an idea of how things would go on. The physical part of it, I had no idea. The first few rounds of chemo were OK. There weren’t many side effects. The fourth round is where I got weak. There were a lot of hospital stays, Christmas and New Year’s in the hospital.” 

Freitas is about to begin stem cell transplant treatment which will hopefully accelerate her road to physical recovery.   

She credited her mother Melissa, a longtime St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, with keeping things positive and Freitas’ treatment on the right track.   

“I have pretty bad anxiety and I’m not a positive thinker in general … my mom helped with that,” said Freitas. “She stayed positive the whole time, stayed on ‘this is what we have to do today.’ Doctor’s appointment today, chemotherapy tomorrow.” 

Freitas added the support of the community and so many others around her meant an incredible amount to her.   

“It truly meant the world to me that so many people came together for me. There are so many people I didn’t realize would be so kind-hearted. People maybe I haven’t talked to in years from my past that would leave positive messages … it left me speechless in a way,” she said.

 

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