It’s been an emotional few months for the Metzler family, of Fairport, and now they want to give back.



Mike Metzler said he and his wife Nancy were devastated to learn their daughter Hannah, 16, was diagnosed with brain cancer last October after she started to feel dizzy and her handwriting was becoming illegible.



The news was life-changing for the whole family.

It’s been an emotional few months for the Metzler family, of Fairport, and now they want to give back.

Mike Metzler said he and his wife Nancy were devastated to learn their daughter Hannah, 16, was diagnosed with brain cancer last October after she started to feel dizzy and her handwriting was becoming illegible.

The news was life-changing for the whole family.

“You go immediately from high school where kids are going, ‘What’s next year? What school (am I going to go to)?’ and all those sorts of things,” he explained. “Then almost immediately you go to, ‘We’ve got a health problem. Let’s get healthy.’ It sort of gives you laser focus in the short term.”

Hannah said getting the diagnosis was a sort of relief in spite of the long road ahead.

“It was good to know that there was actually something wrong and that I wasn’t just making stuff up,” she said. “It didn’t really bother me because I knew everyone would take care of me.”

She went into surgery to remove the walnut-sized tumor on her cerebellum 10 days after her diagnosis. She then began chemotherapy and radiation that kept her from coming to school until her treatment stopped in January.

Hannah now goes to the hospital for chemo twice a week, which doctors anticipate will continue until the end of this year.

While she continues to recover, she got the idea to organize a benefit concert at FHS to help others touched by cancer.

Singing for a cause

The Crush Cancer Concert will take place this Friday, April 12. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Hannah’s older brother, Luke, 19, who is now a freshman studying economics at the University of Rochester.

He auditioned for the YellowJackets in the fall with low expectations.

“I was a junior in high school when they went on TV and that was a big deal for the whole area,” said Luke. “it’s very cool to be a part of something I looked up because after they were on ‘The Singoff’ and I was coming (to U of R), I didn’t expect to make it.”

But he did make it, and now Luke sings baritone in the a cappella group alongside fellow FHS alum, Ross Peterson.

The group will perform a variety of pop songs from artists ranging from Eminem to Justin Bieber at Friday’s concert.

“We’re really excited that Hannah set this up,” he said. “The most rewarding part of being in the YellowJackets is when we can use music to help people in some way.”

Hannah remembers one day when the group surprised her with an impromptu performance at Strong Memorial Hospital. Together they serenaded her and other patients who had come for treatment in the kids’ lounge.

“It was the least I could do,” said Luke. “It was tough seeing her there and I’d been visiting frequently.”

Hannah’s face lit up along with the others around her when their voices filled the room with harmonies.

“It made everyone so happy. It’s a good way to bring smiles to people’s faces,” she said.

Getting through it

Cancer has touched many in the Fairport community with the passing of senior Blake Cognata in January. Since then, the mantra “Find Your Strong” has become a symbol of his resilience.

Hannah remembers when she met Cognata one day in the waiting room at Strong when she was there for radiation. Since he’d been through much of the same treatment, Blake offered her helpful tips.

His memory is now a somber reminder of how quickly a life, no matter how young and bright, can be quickly taken away, and Hannah knows that now more than ever.

Her advice for others in the same situation is to try to stay positive in the face of difficulty.

“It seems like that’s what I did, and we’re getting through it.”

Her father said staying connected with friends and loved ones has made the process more bearable for everyone from the diagnosis through the months afterward.

“Offer (to help) repeatedly and check in periodically because it is a long process, and everybody’s uncomfortable,” he said. “You’re uneasy about how to help, but it really helped us when people checked in again and again.”