The Durda Family

The Durdas still remember the care and support they felt from the Ronald McDonald House over twenty years ago. Today, Megan Durda gives back by working for the Ronald McDonald House in Northern Alberta.
Family Name
The Durdas
Stayed with
RMHC Northern Alberta
Distance from home
464 km
“It became a home away from home where Val could find comfort, rest and a community.”
Matthew Durda was born on October 15, 1983, in Grande Prairie, Alberta, to parents Greg and Val. A happy and healthy child, he loved the outdoors, the world and especially his big sister Megan.

Matthew was always curious and compassionate, showing concern for others and touching the hearts of everyone he met. Like most little boys, he adored chocolate doughnuts, McDonald’s cheeseburgers and all things WWF.

On September 9, 1987, the siblings were at a neighbour’s house playing while their parents went to the doctor’s office; Matthew had a lump that had been sent for testing. Nobody could have predicted they would learn Matthew had cancer.

Two days later, Val and Matthew were airlifted to Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Greg drove down to join them, while Megan stayed with her grandparents.

Val quickly found solace in the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta, while Matthew received treatment. It became a home away from home where the family could have comfort, rest and a community. Matthew was in and out of the hospital, and RMHC Northern Alberta was a place he and Megan could have fun and be kids when she came to visit.
“It was a fun place to be. You could forget that you had a sick brother. It was just normal.”
Megan lovingly recalls the House’s playroom, stocked with mountains of toys, arcade games and feeling special to be invited to hang out with the older kids. “It was a fun place to be. You could forget that you had a sick brother. It was just normal.”

Matthew’s treatment involved rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. His sickness never stopped him from doing the things he enjoyed though; he still loved school and learning.

Miraculously, in the spring of 1990, Matthew was in remission. The Durdas celebrated by doing lots of family activities like fishing, camping and building a playhouse. Most importantly, they made lifelong memories.

Matthew’s cancer relapsed in the fall of 1990, and with it came the realization of the family’s worst fear: there was nothing more that could be done for him. Megan felt a sense of panic, mirrored by her loved ones. Everyone rallied around the Durdas for support.

The RMHC Northern Alberta families and staff were steadfast in their presence and care. Megan and her parents were with Matthew when he passed away on January 8, 1991, holding him close as they said their goodbyes.

The family arrived back at RMHC Northern Alberta in the middle of the night. Families and House managers were waiting for them, ready to give comfort and support. Megan lay her head in her mother’s lap as the conversation swirled around her. She felt comforted, and she was peaceful knowing her parents were receiving comfort as well.

Megan is grown up now with a daughter of her own. Matthew’s memory lives on: Alexandra shares her uncle’s thirst for knowledge and curiosity, and Megan continues to honour his compassion by working for the House and being part of the RMHC Northern Alberta Development Team in Grande Prairie.
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