NEW YORK, NY — Kathi Hahn, wife of West Virginia University assistant basketball coach Billy Hahn, is a fighter. Twice she was diagnosed with cancer and twice she beat it. Her daughter, Ashley Calvary, eloquently detailed her mother’s story to producers of the Today Show who invited them to New York City to share the remarkable and inspirational story with the world.
“I feel terrific. Everything is wonderful and so many people helped,” said Kathi in a conversation on Thursday’s Today Show on NBC with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.
Kathi was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in fall 2007. She endured two surgeries and chemotherapy, but by spring was in remission. To celebrate the family went to South Carolina on vacation.
“Our vacation came to an abrupt halt one day when my mom called to me from across the beach house in a concerned voice,” Ashley wrote in her letter to Today. “When I walked into the bathroom I found my mom standing in a mirror examining a lump on her neck.”
Three visits to three different doctors resulted in a diagnosis of leukemia.
“She told everybody she was an overachiever,” Ashley wrote. “She told everybody she got the leukemia so soon after the ovarian cancer so that she could get it over with and be done with it all.”
Survival depended on a bone marrow transplant, but none of her family was a match. Doctors at Ruby Memorial Hospital put Kathi on the International Bone Marrow Registry and eventually found what they were looking for.
“Nobody matched me so they put me on the international list,” Kathi said. “A woman in Germany was a 10 out of 10, a perfect match.”
“The lady (donor) said that her daughter told her, ‘Mom I’m so scared,’” Ashley explained. “She said, ‘You know what, I’m going to save someone else’s mom.’ And that’s exactly what she did.”
After a successful transplant Kathi fulfilled her dream to dance at her daughter’s wedding.
“I think every single person there was in tears,” she said. “We had several people join us; it was like a group hug dance. It was wonderful.”
Kathi said her life is owed to a lot of people who did amazing work.
“Thank God for Nine-West at Ruby Memorial Hospital and Dr. Michael Craig,” Kathi said.
In honor of Kathi’s story, Gifford collaborated with another song writer and wrote song entitled “You Need a Miracle.” Broadway performer Danielle Williamson sang the song live on Today.
The Today Show has given the Hahn’s plane tickets so they can go to Dusseldorf, Germany to meet the donor.