– by Brooke Ervin
Go directly to the campaign here.
Health challenges since birth
Ever since Hannah was born, something just wasn’t right. Whenever she got sick, it was always extreme. Something just didn’t add up.
When Hannah was just two years old her abdomen began to grow. So big that it was crushing her lungs, making it hard to breath. She was taken in and out of hospital, but we never got an answer…. Always a misdiagnoses. Constipation, bad posture…. After living with this at home for so long, Hannah’s abdomen grew so big it crushed her lungs. She was rushed to Victoria General Hospital, and an ultrasound was done.
First diagnosis of cancer
There, they found a 15-centimeter tumour inside her stomach. The family was completely oblivious to the battle they were against. They were immediately rushed to BC Children’s in Vancouver and a biopsy was done, and the devastating answer they were looking for was CANCER, stage 4 cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma.
By the time the PET scan was done, Hannah had cancer from head to toe, covering her entire body.
Lives changed forever. The life she lived before was gone. Hannah was now going to have the battle of her life. Sixteen months of treatment. Away from home…. Her dad and mom were right there beside her, never letting go to hope she would walk away from this and get the life she deserved.
Hannah’s cancer battle was horrible. Suffering every side effect… going into cardiac arrest… battling every life-threatening infection that was possible… port after port… infection after infection. Hannah always seemed to fight and she stayed with us. Nothing could stop her.
After along 16-month battle, her final MRI ruled Hannah was cancer free. The best news the family could have hoped for and they got permission to return home. They were so excited. With tears pouring down their faces, they drove out of that parking lot as fast as they could, hoping to never look back.
A horrible mistake, and a second diagnosis of a different cancer
Only a few short weeks later, on the way to Hannah’s first day of preschool, her Oncologist called from Vancouver to say they made a horrible mistake. Her last MRI that deemed her cancer free from Rhabdomoyosarcoma actually showed she now developed LEUKEMIA.
How was this possible? Two completely unrelated cancers!
Doctors were unsure themselves how this could be. Her dad and mom had to under go testing to see if this was a genetic disorder and if their genes were the cause of this. After tons of tests, they got even more devastating news: the drugs that were supposed to save Hannah’s life have now caused a secondary cancer. There was a less then three per cent chance of happening.
The family was devastated. The poor little girl fought hard enough. And now, this.
After Hannah developed Leukemia because of the chemo, there was no way chemo would save her life now.
Some hope in a cell transplant
Her only chance was a stem cell transplant. The family held swab drives in Victoria and on the news, and over 50,000 volunteers signed up, in under 24 hours, in hopes of saving her life.
A match was found and they couldn’t be happier.
Sadly Hannah relapsed just days prior to the transplant. Another devastating blow. After everyone’s efforts, it would no longer work. This couldn’t be the end… the family couldn’t give up.
A HAPLO transplant instead
Doctors brainstormed together and came up with a HAPLO TRANSPLANT. This had only being done a few times before. It required her mother to undergo surgery and have a litre of stem cells pulled out of her back and injected into Hannah. In March 2014, this took place. There was a 40 percent chance Hannah wouldn’t make it in the first 30 days. She would also never be able to conceive children, her spine wouldn’t grow properly, her stomach wouldn’t grow properly… her organs may never work the same… but they had no choice. This was the only chance for a CURE.
Because her mother was only a half-match, Hannah ended up with second-degree burns to 80 percent of her body, called GVHD (graft vs host disease). Hannah stayed isolated in BC Children’s transplant room for 100 days and on June 27th 2014 Hannah was allowed to return home. This time, we all hoped for good.
Over the next year Hannah grew into a beautiful five year old. Getting stronger and stronger each and every day, attending Kindergarten as best as she could. Minor broken bones along the way from treatment making them weak, but in March 2015 her parents were overjoyed to be able to celebrate her ONE YEAR CANCER FREE PARTY.
Only to be hit with more devastating news…
A third diagnosis of cancer
In May 2015 Hannah relapsed again.. this time there wasn’t much more doctors could do. After years of chemotherapy, radiation and a huge stem cell transplant, there weren’t many options left. The parents fought hard to try for another transplant but the doctors all agreed: Hannah’s heart and other organs would never survive. Hannah would lose her life.
Still, the family refused to give up hope on this little girl. Even though watching her fight was so hard, they just weren’t prepared to say good bye, even if the result of putting her through more could take her life sooner. They wanted a cure.. Hannah had to survive.
No cure in Canada, a life-saving option available in the US
The family as well as doctors looked into treatments outside of Canada. Canada could no longer save her life.
In Baltimore, they are curing terminal children with HIV. Something brand new and in the early stages. But first, they have to get there. Doctors sent the request in and Hannah was accepted. The only problem is the waitlist is huge, and every parent with a terminal child is trying to get in.
The family may run out of time. Hannah’s cancer can return at anytime, and she could lose out of this one last chance of a cure. The treatment is Baltimore is 100 percent FREE, making it even tougher (a longer wait list). There are other hospital practicing the same treatment, but they aren’t covered.
One life held by thread worth a quarter of a million dollars
Canadian medical will not pay for treatment in the United States. In Seattle they are also offering the immuno therapy but it will cost upwards of $250,000.
How can a life be held by money?
Who has that kind of money?
Hannah needs treatment in the States. The Oncologist is scrambling to find funding to help this family. If Hannah’s family had $250,000, they wouldn’t have to wait. Hannah wouldn’t have to wait for a cure. She could be there now.
One final appeal
I’m hoping this campaign reaches far and wide. We may not be able to raise all the money needed but some is better than nothing. Then the doctors may be able to come up with the rest. Funding might not be as hard.
Treatment, living expenses, prescriptions in the States… none of this is covered.
Hannah may run out of time before funding becomes available. Let’s try and get her there. Let’s help take the burden off this family.
She cannot die because of money.
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Other SPN Stories on Hannah Day
- The Hannah Day team quits chemo, begins the cancer-free countdown
- One last attempt to save Hannah Day: “She cannot die because of money”
- Halloween for Hannah Day
- A street in Sooke celebrates Halloween on November 3. Here’s why…