Help keep families together while their sick child is treated at a nearby hospital.
The Mitchell Family
With their oldest daughter in and out of the hospital, the Mitchells found a deep appreciation for their time spent at the House playing Bingo, celebrating birthdays, and most of all, being together.
RMHC Southwestern Ontario, London House
Distance from home
Nights spent with RMHC
Our 12-year-old daughter Chelsea was diagnosed on July 16, 2013, with an aggressive form of cancer known as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Over eight months, she suffered through three rounds of harsh chemotherapy. The worst part though was she was not responding to treatments like the doctors hoped.
On December 20, we received the news that she would have to undergo a stem cell transplant eight hours away in Calgary. We were terrified and overwhelmed. We did not know what to expect other than knowing there was no going home for a long time.
Thankfully, we had been welcomed to tour the Ronald McDonald House a month before we had to leave for Chelsea’s transplant. It was very homey and we felt relief knowing we would be okay. On March 8, 2014, our whole family —including my husband and two other daughters— headed to Calgary.
Chelsea had her transplant on March 20 after seven days of intense chemo and radiation therapy. Ronald McDonald House truly was our home away from home. The first couple weeks were rough, but the staff and volunteers were amazing in helping us transition into our new surroundings. We spent most of our time at the hospital, but it was comforting to be able to take our other daughters, Cassidy and Cristyn, back to the House for home-cooked meals and much-needed breaks.
“We did not know what to expect seeing as we lived eight hours away from Calgary. There was no going home for a long time.”
Cristyn and Cassidy both loved the playroom, the family TV rooms and, most of all, the craft room. The girls were also blessed to celebrate their birthdays at the House with amazing cakes made by the caring volunteers. As parents, we couldn’t express how grateful we were that the girls could still have special birthdays so far away from home.
The staff looked after all of us and treated us like family. Chelsea was in and out of the hospital often. On the days that she was able to spend at the House, she would participate along with her sisters in the many activities put on by the staff and volunteers. Our favourite as a family was “Monday Night Bingo”; this gave us something to look forward to every week.
“We have made life-long friendships with some amazing people, not only with the other House guests, but with the staff too.”
On June 26, 2014, we received Chelsea’s biopsy results and she had no more cancer cells. We felt so blessed that our daughter was now in remission. After 113 days, leaving the House was hard and going home was scary, but we took with us fond memories and lifelong friendships with the other House guests and staff.
Thank you Ronald McDonald House for all that you do to make families like ours feel welcome and supported through such difficult times. We will always be grateful. Since we’ve been home, we have enjoyed every second that cancer is not in our house. It is a gift for Chelsea to have this new chance at life and we are going to help her live it to the fullest.
Photo credit: Angela B. Photography