August 2, 2008
‘Princess Savannah’ Loses Battle With Cancer
By Donna M. Perry
WILTON - A young girl's courageous three-year struggle with cancer ended peacefully early Friday morning in the comfort of her parents arms.Savannah Hurley, 7, nicknamed "Princess Savannah" for her love of princesses, demonstrated her courage in many ways after she was diagnosed in 2005 with Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer that spread to her lungs.
Savannah, who would have been 8 on Aug. 15, attended Cushing School in Wilton when she could. Her parents, Brian and Melissa Hurley, involved Savannah in decisions about her care, such as undergoing a stem-cell transplant and an aggressive treatment that included new drugs she had not tried before.
The cancer was in remission for a period in 2007 after the transplant and high-dose chemotherapy, but it returned later that year.
Melissa Hurley kept people registered on carepages.com up to date on her daughter's health.
"At 3:30 this morning our sweet Princess Savannah returned to our Heavenly Father's kingdom in Heaven," Melissa wrote just before 5 a.m. Friday. "She went very peacefully in Brian and my arms, surrounded by family and close friends. As we allowed people in the room to say goodbye after she was gone, a smile appeared on her face. This was her way of letting us know that she was very happy to be with Jesus and all of the angels that have been around her for the last few days. We are so grateful that she is no longer in any pain."
The family went through many of ups and downs but their strong faith kept them going, they said.
"Our family is forever, and if we lose her, we will see her again," Melissa said earlier this year.
It was difficult to tell a 7-year-old she might die, the mother said. She quoted the Bible passage, "In my Father's house, there are many mansions" and told Savannah she would get there first and could pick out the mansion.
Cushing School Principal Darlene Paine described Savannah as "a lovely young girl" who thoroughly enjoyed school.
"She just loved everything about being a student," Paine said. "Whenever I visited the classroom she was always paying close attention to her teacher or working on a paper or helping out fellow classmates. We all feel sorry she had such a short life, but we were all blessed by knowing her."
In December 2006, the school held Pink Day in honor of Savannah who had just been diagnosed with cancer for the second time.
Savannah had dyed her hair pink in preparation for losing it during chemotherapy treatment and donned a pink stole and dress for the occasion. She danced to the song "Shaking Down the Sugar" with classmates and staff members, drumming her hands to the rhythm and shaking her hips. "Savannah was a fighter. All she ever wanted to do was participate and be in school and live life the fullest," her former kindergarten teacher, Heidi Osgood, said Friday.
Some teachers gathered at the school Friday morning to talk about Savannah.
"She was such a beautiful little girl and she touched a lot of lives," family friend and teacher Christine Harrington said. "She was strong and brave and kind of a fighter. She had that fighting instinct in her. She'll be missed by a lot of people, but she is in a better place that she is not suffering any more. She was not afraid to die. She died peacefully."
Savannah's parents also involved her in funeral preparations, Harrington said. She will be buried in a pink casket and the memorial service will be a celebration of her life. The service will be announced.
Originally published by Staff Writer.
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