The Russell Family

The Russell Family

Worn out by long, costly commutes from Powell River, the Russell family moved into the Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon for Derek’s second round of chemotherapy.
Family Name
The Russells
Stayed with
RMHC British Columbia & Yukon
Distance from home
176 km
“It was like coming home,” said Allison. “You walk in the doors and the House just hugs you.”
At 15, Derek Russell has already beaten several daunting challenges. Still, he continues to meet each day with a smile. He was born with Down Syndrome, and in 2001, diagnosed with leukemia. He was admitted to BC’s Children’s Hospital and when his family travelled from Powell River to be with him, the closest accommodation they could find was in Coquitlam, 34 kilometres away. Worn out by long, costly commutes and in an unfamiliar city, they moved into the Ronald McDonald House in BC for Derek’s second round of chemotherapy. “It was like coming home,” said Allison. “You walk in the doors and the House just hugs you.”

Along with a home-away-from-home, Allison found a community of support with other families who understood their situation. “When you have a sick kid, people try to get it but don’t. Ronald McDonald House is a place where people really understand what you are going through,” Allison shared.

In July of 2001, Derek finished his cancer treatment; but his fight was not over. He’s needed five heart surgeries; his family has stayed at the House for three of these. Most recently, his mom, Allison, stayed at the House in February of 2014 while he underwent his fifth surgery.

Throughout all their struggles, Derek and his family have remained nothing but hopeful and positive. “He is a survivor,” says Allison. For the family, RMHC BC & Yukon continues to be a home away from home.
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