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Donations let family focus on Hannah's cancer battle

Aug 25 2012
Brooke Ervin, whose three-year-old daughter Hannah Day is battling a rare form of cancer at B.C. Children’s Hospital, arrives in Victoria via float plane on Aug. 24, 2012.¬†

Brooke Ervin, whose three-year-old daughter Hannah Day is battling a rare form of cancer at B.C. Children’s Hospital, arrives in Victoria via float plane on Aug. 24, 2012.

Photograph by: LYLE STAFFORD , timescolonist.com (August 2012)

Brooke Ervin received royal treatment when she returned to Langford to receive yet another donation to help her family as they battle a rare case of cancer that has threatened the life of their three-year-old daughter, Hannah Day.

Ervin rode in a police motorcade to and from float plane terminals in Vancouver and Victoria on Friday to personally thank ReMax Alliance for a $10,000 cheque.

Hannah was diagnosed with a rare case of cancer this month, more than a year after the family lost everything they owned in an electrical fire that destroyed their home and the family welding business in January 2011.

The family has been by Hannah's side for the past few weeks, unable to return to work. Barely able to afford to feed themselves, they have been moved by the public response, which has raised about $30,000 in donations, Ervin said during her visit to Langford.

"It's been amazing. I don't have to worry about returning to work, I can just focus on Hannah," she said.

And there's more cash to come, with several fundraisers throughout Greater Victoria planned in the coming weeks.

Hannah has made significant progress since first arriving at B.C. Children's Hospital on Aug. 3, when she and her parents were rushed from Victoria General by helicopter.

Doctors quickly determined she had a rare case of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. The cancer is found in several people a year in B.C., according to Dr. Rod Rassekh in the oncology department at Children's Hospital, but the location in Hannah's body makes her case particularly rare.

Typically, the cancer is found coming out of the muscles in the head and neck, bladder, vagina, or in or around the prostate and testicles.

Hannah's cancer, however, has lined the walls of her entire abdominal cavity. Doctors cannot even determine where the tumour began.

"It's more of a smearing of tumour cells," Rassekh said. "It's really quite unusual for rhabdo."

Hannah's stomach had ballooned dramatically, but harsh chemotherapy treatment has reduced her belly size and has given her an appetite once again.

"When she first got here, she would barely let me treat her and she wasn't eating," Rassekh said.

Doctors will measure her tumour after 20 weeks of chemotherapy and plan to continue treatment for the full 52-week schedule.

Already, she has had a day pass from the hospital, and spent the time with her family, celebrating the birthday she missed because she was rushed to hospital.

Her mom is still upset that it took several trips to clinics and emergency rooms before getting a correct diagnosis, but she does not know whether she will file an official complaint.

Hannah was misdiagnosed as having bad posture and constipation before the large mass was found during an ultrasound.

"I think it's unacceptable for a doctor to say this is bad posture," Ervin said. "You start to doubt yourself when the hospital tells you there's nothing wrong and you feel like you've wasted their time, but really, they've wasted yours."

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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