"Your son has leukemia." 4 words that no parent should ever have to hear; and words that completely crushed us. Our sweet Ethan was diagnosed on August 16th, 2022 when he was only 2 years old. I will never forget that day. We brought Ethan to our local ER in Guelph, ON on the evening of August 15th due to his appearing jaundice and some very strange bruising. After some blood work, he was originally diagnosed with severe anemia and we were transferred to McMaster Children's Hospital. I was at home with our six-month old daughter at the time, and when he was transferred, I called my parents to stay with our daughter Zoey and rushed down to Hamilton to be with Ethan and my husband Kevin. The next 24 hours were a blur. We were moved from McMaster ER to the Oncology and Hematology Ward before receiving the official diagnosis. When we finally got the news, our hearts sank.
We soon learned that the type of leukemia he has is very common and that it has an incredible success rate. Ethan was also diagnosed with a genetic mutation of the cancer which increased his risk. We had a lot of faith that he would be ok in the end, but we also had to gear up for a very challenging journey.
The nurses on the ward referred us to Ronald McDonald House and we were accepted right away. I drove home to pick up our daughter and pack up our family of 4. We spent 9 nights at RMHC which allowed one of us to stay at the hospital each night with Ethan and one of us with our baby and stay close to the hospital. This allowed us to have access to meals and comforts of home while we moved through the most challenging weeks of our lives. RMHC allowed us to be together as a family. Zoey learned to crawl while we were between McMaster and RMHC. What RMHC gave us was peace of mind at the hardest moment in our lives.
I had heard of families staying at RMHC prior to our experience and knew it was a special place, but until we experienced it for ourselves, I had no idea how special it really is and how meaningful it is to have these comforts at an incredibly challenging and vulnerable time. Every family's story is different, but I know that they all hold immense gratitude for the part that RMHC played in their journey. I know I always will.
Since becoming outpatients after our stay, we are still impacted by RMHC family rooms at the hospital. We travel from Guelph to Hamilton up to 4 times a week, have had many planned and unplanned hospital admissions, and we are still able to experience the support through fresh coffee, meals and a warm smile. We are 9 months into our 2 1/2 year journey as I write this. Ethan is now 3 and Zoey is now 1. Not all the memories from the early days are hard, we have many wonderful memories because we were able to be together as a family, because we were supported and because we were able to experience some comforts.
I am so honoured to be a fundraiser for RMHC South Central Ontario, because I know firsthand the impact RMHC has on families just like mine. Thank you for keeping families together and for making the most challenging times that much easier. My family is forever grateful.
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