On Beyond Cancer

My life with metastatic breast cancer

Karissa Alana Hahn August 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — laziesthero @ 12:18 pm

Karissa Alana Hahn, a woman who personified strength and grace in the face of obstacles, ended her five-year battle with cancer August 28. She was 35.

Karissa inspired those around her as she refused to let cancer get in the way of life. Between chemo treatments and doctor’s appointments, Karissa could be found hiking with her husband Mike, doing science experiments with her two boys, or planning adventures with her mom and sister. Every Thursday, Karissa donned a pink lab coat and volunteered at Somerset Medical Center’s patient boutique, helping fellow patients pick wigs and scarves – she’d advise them on what looked best with their complexions – and processing medical billing in the back office.

“No matter how difficult the situation was, Karissa would never show it,” her friend Winnie wrote. “She is the most positive person that I have known. When I needed advice from her (mostly over silly stuff like job interviews and baby advice), she was always like a big sister to me – to comfort and guide me through.”

Karissa’s blog, On Beyond Cancer, reached people around the world, and she helped start a support group for young women with cancer. She raised money for breast cancer research, modeled in fashion shows for the cure and posed as “Mrs. August” in a breast cancer calendar.

Karissa had a studious side as well. A valedictorian at Keyport High School, she studied biology at Rutgers University and completed a master’s degree in public health. She worked as a medical researcher at UMDNJ, where she crunched numbers for medical studies and helped investigate a wide range of diseases.

It was at Rutgers that she met Mike Hahn, her husband and partner in life. After Mike proposed (following the Rutgers tradition of popping the question at Passion Puddle), they were married April 25, 2003. They have two sons, Ethan and Ryan — who inherited her smarts, her analytical nature and her good humor. Karissa enjoyed spending time with family, whether it be reading books or sewing giant stuffed snakes. She was a mom who made things fun, constantly researching new parks to visit and different crafts to try. She served as an example to new moms – who could often expect a care package of kids’ clothes or baby toys from her in the mail.

“She lived every day to the fullest and taught us much about what it meant to live,” said her friend, Pam. “She left the world a better place by her presence in it.”

In addition to her husband and her children, Karissa is survived by her parents, Margie and Tom Fischer and Bill and Tina Clarke; her grandfather, John Clarke; her in-laws Jeff and Jolene Hahn; and her sister Sara Clarke-Lopez. She is loved by many and will be missed by her aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course, her friends.

A viewing and service will be held Sunday, August 31, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Bridgewater Funeral Home, 707 East Main Street, Bridgewater, NJ. Karissa will be buried at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Keyport. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a college fund for her children, care of Michael Hahn, Trustee.


She was the strongest person I have ever known August 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — laziesthero @ 10:34 am

I am so sorry to tell you that Karissa passed away today around lunchtime surrounded by our family at home. She fought so hard to be with us for 5 years, which we were so grateful for. I have never cried so hard in my life, but she did give us a gift of a smile right before she passed to remember her with. I know I will see her face anytime our 2 boys smile.

I will update again when we have information about her funeral, but I wanted everyone to know about what happened today.

If you have any happy stories you would like to share in the comments about Karissa, our family would love to read them.


Goldilocks and the 3 pain patches August 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 7:33 pm

Hoping I find the blue chair soon.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with pain management this week.  I started Fentanyl patches for pain about 2 weeks ago.   They worked well for awhile, but then the pain, especially from my abdomen, increased.  My doctor recommended switching from 25 mcg (micrograms) to 50.  While I was waiting to get the prescription for the 50, Dr T said to wear two 25 patches together, so I used all but one in the box.  As it happened, fifty was just too much for  me and I was falling asleep sitting up, even when reading to Ryan.  So the dr said I should go back down to 25, then maybe try combining the 25 (lowest adult dose) with the 12.5 (children’s dose).  Cheryl picked up my new prescription for me and Mike took it to the pharmacy to fill it.  The insurance company decided it was a refill, and that I had to wait a certain number of days before they would fill it.  Argh!  That meant going a few days with no patch and just Percocet.  Do you think I might have been a little grumpy?  Also burst into tears a couple of times.  Anyhow, today I finally got the 25 +12.5=37.5.  Let’s hope it works!!


The 2 patches, just under my collarbone. The pediatric one is super tiny, just to the left of the adult version.


This week’s chemo August 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 7:48 am

Sorry, I’m a bit behind on my blogging.  A bit of good news this week.  My counts were fine (which surprised my Dr), so I was able to get chemo.  Also for the second week in a row my liver enzymes and bilirubin have improved.  Dr T sent my Foundation One genetic testing to a compassionate care program at Novartis.  The program provides drugs that are not yet FDA approved to patients who might benefit from them.


Started Navelbine today August 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 3:28 pm

My counts were good today, so I’ve started Navelbine.  The premeds are Emend and Aloxi for nausea as well as fluids.  The Navelbine is given as an IV push, so it will be quick.

I’m feeling good today, having a nice time with my mom.


Not enough fluid for paracentesis August 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 2:52 pm

Well, the paracentesis was a no go today.  The fluid in my abdomen is spread out in small pockets, the largest one 100mL.  It just wasn’t possible to remove enough to help with symptoms like pain and bloating, so the radiologist didn’t recommend it.  It does seem like it’s decreasing a bit.  We’ll just have to hope that chemo will help.