Hannah Day is all smiles.
Donning a baby blue dress, the four year old’s bare feet scramble up and down the yard like those of any other child, laughing and dragging their way through the dirt. Battling rhabdomyosarcoma since 2012 and more recently leukemia, the Langford girl is celebrating a homecoming and a milestone: 100 days cancer-free.
Her father, Robert Day, said the community support they received as the family made their way back from B.C. Children’s Hospital has been awe-inspiring.
“To be able to drive down the road and see numerous people there just to wave and say hello, it touched my heart to be able to see those people,” he said. “It is a super honour for me to be able to bring my daughter home that has fought so hard over the last two years.”
Supporters of Hannah, many of whom the family don’t even know, lined the road from the ferry terminal Saturday to wave and honk in support of the young cancer survivor, a celebration that culminated in a barbecue in their home municipality.
The gathering, with the backdrop of the 12 foot high and 15 foot wide mural of Hannah painted by local artist Paul Archer, was the perfect end to a special day, Robert said.
“It is such a great feeling to know that we are at the end and we can possibly move forward and move on with our lives. And it happened on my birthday, so it makes it a really good feeling,” he said.
Day is cautiously optimistic for his daughter, who received a stem cell transplant from her mother, Brook Ervin, earlier in the year. They will continue to monitor Hannah, but there is little else they can do for her, and she seems to be improving day by day.
“She (had) lost almost every pound she had to offer. She weighed 10 pounds less than her two-year-old sister,” Day said. “It has just been over the last 100 days since this transplant that everything has been working in her favour. She has been able to put almost 10 pounds back on.”
Mikayla Evans, a cancer patient at B.C. Children’s Hospital who met Hannah there, was also on hand to celebrate the day with her new friend. The 16-year-old Esquimalt High student also went through chemotherapy and lost all her hair.
Hannah is not only well loved here, Evans said, she provided strength and support while the teen endured treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma.
“She keeps a big smile on her face and makes sure everyone else has a smile too,” she said. “It is great seeing her have a great time, and that they can finally relax a little bit and take it easy. How strong she is … it is just amazing and inspiring. I just want to snuggle her so much right now.”
Holding his daughter in his arms, Day said the whole day was one he’ll never forget. “It is awesome. This has consumed our lives for two years to the point you almost don’t feel like you have a life … It is really nice to be able to take a little bit of a breath and enjoy the time as you spend it,” he said.
“It is one of those birthday presents that can’t even be described. It is one of those legendary ones that go down in the books. It can’t be topped.”