Toronto has a very special guest this week.
Canada’s Wonderland theme park, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the Toronto Zoo and even the Toronto Maple Leafs will get a visit from terminally ill cancer patient Hannah Day. With the assistance of the Help Fill a Dream Foundation, the six-year-old West Shore resident will enjoy a holiday that the non-profit organization’s board hopes she won’t soon forget.
“Our mandate is to help children with life-threatening illnesses and Hannah Day fits right in,” said board vice-president Jaime Adams. “We’ve had the dream request and it was approved for quite a while, but it has been up to the doctor as to whether she could travel.”
The trip to Toronto was booked then cancelled twice already because the young girl, whose rare chemotherapy-induced leukemia was deemed terminal in May, became ill again. Without medical clearance to go, Day and her family waited patiently for the right time – doctors gave them the green light Friday.
“Her mouth dropped wide open; she was in shock,” Brooke Ervin said last week, describing her daughter hearing the news. “It dropped more open when she (found out) she would see the Maple Leafs – because she’s a big hockey fan.”
Ervin said Hannah’s favourite thing in the entire world is the fair. “And she was shocked she would go to one of the biggest in Canada.”
Help Fill a Dream Foundation covered the cost of airfare, included an additional $840 for incidental travel costs, and provided $200 for gifts for Hannah, who has battled cancer for most of her young life. She was scheduled to receive more treatment on the day the family flew to Toronto, but Ervin said they decided instead to take the opportunity for a family vacation as a way to preserve Hannah’s happiness.
“This was our last chance to go on this trip because Wonderland closes on Oct. 31. So we put all treatment on hold …,” Ervin said.
“At this point in time we prefer quality of life. She has no clue (about her diagnosis) and talked about her birthday next year. It is hard for me to hear those things … and as you know treatment is no longer working for us. We prefer to give her this special gift that she deserves.”
While her weight has dropped to 27 pounds, Hannah’s spirits are high, Ervin said, and it is hard to tell how ill she is based on how she runs and plays as if she is healthy.
Ervin voiced gratefulness to the foundation, which Adams said is here to help local families.
“Their family is going through significant turmoil financially and this will take everything away for a week and allow them to be a family and enjoy every moment of this,” she said. “(We want to) bring a smile to Hannah’s face and take away the moments of being scared, moments at the hospital, and let them be a family again.”