Friends fundraising to cover Squamish single mom's expenses during cancer battle

Muriel Hanson has an aggressive type of cancer that requires the removal of her nose

Friends and family are rallying around a Squamish mother diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.

Muriel "Mouse" Hanson, 47, visited a walk-in-clinic around Christmas because her nose was still bothering her after she recovered from a cold.

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Three months later, after using antibiotics and steroids from her family doctor who thought she might have a sinus infection or blocked tear duct, an ear nose and throat specialist looked at her CT scan and realized she had a nasal lesion.

By that point, the irritation in her nose had grown so much that the lump attached to her septum made her left nostril look swollen from the outside.

A biopsy revealed it was sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma, a very rare and aggressive cancer that targets the lining of the nasal passage and sinus.

"They said it's advanced so far… now it's at the point where they have to take the nose," she said.

She's scheduled to have surgery at Vancouver General Hospital to on April 30.

"At first I was stunned. I didn't totally clue in that he meant off with my nose," she said. "I just thought, like, I'd lose my nose. But then I realized I'd lose the smells."

Even though her tumour is the size of a dime, she said doctors need to cut away a loonie-sized piece of flesh to make sure the cancer is removed.

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Her surgeon told her they're going to try and save the front of her nose, and insert metal pins on which to anchor a new nose they'll construct using bone and an artery from her arm

Janika Ekdahl, Hanson's close friend for two decades, has started an online fundraising campaign, "Help support Muriel 'Mouse' Hanson" to help cover Hanson's expenses while she travels back and forth to Vancouver for her extensive treatments.

"I know in a heartbeat if I ever needed anything that she would be there for me," Ekdahl said. "I just want to do the same. She deserves it."

Hanson is a single parent to her two daughters who are six and nine. She also helps raise her niece and nephew with her mother.

Every time she heads to Vancouver for appointments, Hanson said it costs her about $30 in gas and $15 in hospital parking. Soon, she'll have to stay overnight and arrange care for her children while she's away.

Expenses are getting tight, especially since Hanson was off her feet and couldn't work for several months before the diagnosis due to knee surgery in 2017.

It's not her first time battling cancer, either. In 2009, thyroid cancer meant surgery to extract four lymph nodes and the hormone-producing organ. At the time, her first daughter was only months old.

"She just can't catch a break, and I feel awful for her," Ekdahl said.

She's trying to raise $15,000 to get Hanson through the nose surgery, radiation, and possible chemotherapy.

As for Hanson, she said she's learned you need to advocate for yourself when it comes to your health after waiting almost four months for her diagnosis.

"If you think something is wrong, push it. Don't just settle for what they say."

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