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March 30, 2010 4:06 am

Life changing

Written by Tribune Staff

Powell girl to appear on ‘Today' show

A personal decision made a few years ago has landed a Powell woman a page in a national magazine and an appearance on national television this week.

“It's all sort of surreal,” Hannah Olson said last week of an article that appears in the current issue of “People” and of her pending trip to New York to appear on “Today” show on NBC Tuesday morning.

The article grew out of Olson's decision to undergo breast-reduction surgery following her graduation from Powell High School in 2008. According to Olson, a public relations representative from “People” contacted her several weeks ago about a feature on young people who have undergone reconstructive surgery.

Olson, who is attending Northwest College, said the magazine had contacted several doctors who perform reconstructive surgery last fall, including her surgeon, and, after gaining her permission, he had recommended her. She was interviewed, and last month, “People” sent a photographer to Powell to obtain photos for the article.

Last week, Olson was notified that the story would appear in the edition that hit the newsstands this week.

Later, she received a call from NBC. The network received an advance copy of the story and wanted her to appear, along with two other young people, on the Today Show.

“One of them is from Los Angeles and the other from New York, and there's me from Powell,” Olson said.

Olson, who is very open about her surgery and willing to discuss it, said there were “lots of reasons” for undergoing the surgery. One reason was that her breasts inhibited her ability to excel in sports and put a damper on her ability to dance, an activity she had loved since childhood.

“I loved ballet, but I couldn't do the jumps,” she said.”

Physically, she was suffering back pain, and was told that, at age 19, she already had permanent back damage because of her condition. Her breathing also was affected.

Another factor was the way she was perceived by others. Although she was “not necessarily teased,” she said her breasts drew attention that made her uncomfortable and nicknames that were hurtful. She found herself being identified by her shape.

“I just didn't want to be labeled that way,” she said.

Olson stressed that the surgery was reconstructive, to correct physical problems, not cosmetic. Though it took a full year to fully recover from the operation, she noticed improvement almost immediately.

“When I first woke up from the surgery, I could tell it was easier to breathe,” she said.

Olson said she is open about her surgery, and was willing to talk about it in a national publication, because she knows other women experience similar problems and might be considering the same surgery.

“Even one of the PR ladies who called me asked me about it,” she said. “It's cool to hear that someone in New York City is asking me about the surgery.”

Here in Powell, Olson said she has received only positive reactions from people.

“I'm surprised how cool people were about it,” she said.

So this week, Olson, along with her parents, Bruce and Vicki Olson, will travel to New York to appear on “Today” on Tuesday (today) during the 8 a.m. half hour.

Those who miss the show on Tuesday should be able to watch the segment on the Internet later. It can be accessed online, here.

Olson said she and her parents, especially her dad, are excited about the trip and her appearance on television, but, despite the attention, she “doesn't feel like a celebrity.” She does, however, plan to use her few minutes of fame to achieve one special goal.
“I'm going to make sure I have my picture taken with (“Today” co-host) Matt Lauer,” she said.