Everything happened very quickly. One day Daxton, four years old, woke up with a headache. The next day he was physically ill. He and his family rushed to the Red Deer Hospital Emergency Room and were immediately seen. Within the hour they were told that his blood cell count indicated cancer – but because of the need for a specialized diagnosis, the family had to head to Edmonton or Calgary. Quickly.

It only took a couple of hours to get to Edmonton and Daxton started chemotherapy later that day.

After a week of staying in the hospital, Daxton’s doctors determined he was well enough to leave the hospital but not well enough to leave the vicinity. The family were presented with a couple options, including a hotel.

“I knew we needed a quiet and safe space to be. It was just the two of us at that point as my daughter and husband were back at home,” said mom Jacey.

There was a suite available for them at the Ronald McDonald House. An RMHC shuttle driver picked up the family that evening and helped Jacey with her bags.

Reflecting on arriving at the Ronald McDonald House, Jacey said, “It was more home than medical when we first walked in. We were greeted with so much warmth.”

The person checking in Jacey and her son took one look at Daxton and saw that he was having a rough time medically and physically. He leaned over to Daxton and said, “I have something special to show you.” It was right then and there, in the first few minutes of arriving at RMHC Alberta, that Daxton got to visit the Magic Room.

“It brought some light into my child that I had not seen in a week,” said Jacey. “The staff and volunteers were so accommodating to Daxton’s needs.”

The Magic Room brought some light into my child that I had not seen in a week. The staff and volunteers were so accommodating to Daxton’s needs.

The Schlosser family stayed at the House for over 200 nights in 2019 and 2020.

There were some days when Daxton could not walk, but the staff were always checking in to make sure he was feeling okay or to see if they could grab him an extra treat to cheer him up. When Daxton’s family had to spend a lot of time in the room when he was unwell, RMHC team members would notice, and they would ask Jacey if they could bring her a plate of food or a comfort item.

“They made sure that I was taken care of and that I was looking after myself, which was so important because I had completely forgotten that I existed,” shared Jacey. “When you have a child that is so medically compromised and struggling, it can be so challenging. We would come home from the worst days and there would be Family Bingo night or another activity like baking or a game night.”

It was during the evenings that Daxton and Jacey would see other families they passed in the halls of the hospital and get a chance to connect. “There was no pity. There was just love.”

The family always had rides available when they did not have their vehicle. As Jacey put it, “I had no car – I came to the House with the clothes on my back inside an ambulance. And even when I was finally able to get my car, the House provided a gas card to get back to Edmonton.” The financial burdens of medical travel were lessened because of the support of the Ronald McDonald House.

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to ensure families can stay together and close to the care they need. We are honoured to have played that role in the Schlosser family’s medical journey. “It was a place for my daughter to come and safely visit her brother, and it was not scary for her. She was not used to the hospital environment, and the House gave them a chance to have a sleepover and connect,” said Jacey.

The Schlosser family also made a special connection with the volunteers at RMHC Alberta. “I am positive that volunteers know they make a significant difference; it will be remembered for a lifetime by the family they support. I remember the people who came in and chatted with me and brought treats, and it make the biggest difference,” Jacey said.

Daxton is now in remission and has transitioned to the survival clinic. He and his family have an entire army of RMHC volunteers, families, and staff cheering him on.