Hannah Serpa loves getting mail.
When a great aunt recently sent the 2 1⁄2-year-old girl a Christmas card, Hannah opened it up with glee — and then began tearing open the rest of the family’s mail.
This holiday season is a tough one for little Hannah and her family as the Elsa-loving toddler from Milton battles leukemia and the grueling treatment to combat it.
Her parents have come up with an idea to lift their daughter’s spirits and their request is simple: Hannah would love you to send her a Christmas card.
“It’s something that’s going to make her smile,” her mother, Michelle Serpa, 36, told me yesterday.
Hannah began having leg pain in August. She was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September — the day before her sister Blaire’s first birthday — and started a two-year regimen of chemotherapy.
“The first couple days, you really don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself,” her father, Mark Serpa, 38, said.
“There’s the shock, but then there’s, ‘Your daughter has leukemia; here’s the treatment plan. You have until tomorrow to decide, and we want to start tomorrow night.’ You’re still processing it, and it’s just like you’re sick to your stomach.”
Michelle cried thinking about “the enormity of it.” But, she added, “you have to be strong for her.”
The brave tot has had lumbar punctures, where chemotherapy is administered through her spine. She’s also undergone two bone marrow biopsies and takes steroid medications. All told, she has spent three weeks at the hospital since her diagnosis. She’s being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic.
The grueling therapy has wiped out Hannah’s immune system, her parents said, so she can’t go to places like indoor playgrounds.
“I just want my girl to be able to be a little girl for the next two years as much as possible,” her dad said.
Michelle wants the same for her daughter, so she posted the Christmas card request on Facebook earlier this week.
“This is going to help her be a little girl and get her excited,” she said. “It’s the little things.”
Already, kindhearted folks have offered Hannah tickets to the New England Aquarium and want to arrange for an Elsa princess to visit her on Christmas Day. Others posted that Hannah should be on the lookout for their cards.
Michelle and Mark are touched by people’s generosity. All they ask is for people to send a card to their daughter or…