When Frankie was six months old she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. After staying in the ICU at Frankie’s bedside for the first initial days, Amanda & Chris Butler were referred to the Ronald McDonald House.
“We were totaled, absolutely wrecked – we were so exhausted, and the Ronald McDonald House was so lovely and welcoming,” Amanda says.
When it came time for Frankie’s high-dose chemotherapy to begin in January 2021, Amanda & Chris were recommended for a new pilot project at RMHC Alberta – supported by Graham Group – which offers two private family suites in the Aria complex adjacent to both the Ronald McDonald House and the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
“We were shown the space and completely blown away,” Amanda says. “It was so lovely to have that natural light, that beautiful modern space, and during COVID-19 a safe, private place just for us – it’s a situation no one ever wants to be in, but this spot was just so perfect.”
Amanda & Chris would take turns sleeping at the hospital with Frankie, and then switching off with each other to sleep in their Aria suite.
“We’d flop back and forth from Aria to the hospital – and if we were too tired to make food, there was still that support and connection to the Ronald McDonald House so close by,” she adds.
Amanda explains that there was about one week out of each month that Frankie would be out of the hospital, and to have that non-communal space available with an immunocompromised baby was ideal.
“We would never want anyone to actually understand what we’re going through – but I don’t think I can explain as a parent how helpful it was to have this little piece of support for us,” Amanda explains of the Aria suite.
“It helped a lot, and not just because it was a place to sleep, but because it’s a beautiful place – Aria allowed us to take care of ourselves so we could take care of Frankie better.”
For Amanda & Chris, the Aria suite gave them a quality of life that can’t be overstated when you’re in difficult circumstances with a sick child.
“When you’re in this position you need convenience because you’re just so tired and all the little things are what are the most exhausting,” she says.
“After a long day at the hospital, going down to the gym to do a quick run on the treadmill, or popping into Save-On Foods to get some fresh fruit, or heading over to the Ronald McDonald House for a prepared meal – kept us happier and healthier for our daughter.”