Listen to Veronica’s Taste of Home speech

My daughter Eden and I have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House for a year.

At the age of one, Eden was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma (cancer) which had grown to the point the tumor had wrapped itself around her spinal cord and compressed it, causing her to lose control over every part of her body below her arms.

Overnight, my beautiful, happy little baby girl was paralyzed.

We came from Lethbridge by ambulance with nothing more than my purse, her bottle, and her blankie. It was around two in the morning when they gave me her diagnosis. I remember arguing with him, telling him it had to be something else, anything else.

I can’t explain the feeling you get when they tell you that your baby has cancer. Eden’s cancer was so aggressive it had also wrapped around her aorta and compressed her trachea to a degree she could not survive general anesthetic and was awake for every surgery and procedure the first few weeks.

My whole world came crashing down. I was alone, three hours away from home, and the Ronald McDonald House was here for us.

The first few months of treatment Eden had to fight so hard we almost lost her three separate times.

Every part of treatment seemed to bring a new, serious complication. There is no way I could have continued working. My baby was fighting for her life; I needed to be with her.

Chemotherapy also took her immune system. She was often neutropenic; any small virus or bacteria would turn into a hospital admission and antibiotics, so we spent a lot of time in isolation.

I don’t think Eden would still be here and doing this well without the Ronald McDonald House. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to handle this journey without them.

There are some government financial supports for caregivers who can’t work and we qualify for almost all of them with the severity of her diagnosis. That provides me with around $1000 a month to meet all our basic needs: food, shelter, transportation, and medication (which can get expensive with cancer treatment). That’s not enough in this economy for anyone.

The Ronald McDonald House gave us a safe, affordable place to stay. They gave us support and a community when I needed it most. They provide warm meals, shuttle services to appointments, and invaluable care while my daughter is fighting for her life.

Because of the support we were given, Eden is thriving and defying medical odds, running around and climbing everything. Our most recent spine clinic follow up was with the doctor who had met her a year ago. The doctor walked in, looked at Eden, and didn’t recognize her. She thought she was in the wrong room! She was astounded and it was amazing.

I know in my heart had we not been given the opportunity to stay here my baby would not be doing this well right now, and I’m not the only medical parent who would say this.

Calgary is the only place in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and eastern British Columbia that can do high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. This is a key treatment in many subtypes of cancer as well as some other immune conditions.

There are more of us that you think. 

Eden has two older brothers, 8 and 10, who absolutely love when they get to come have sleepovers at the Ronald McDonald House. I couldn’t imagine going this long without getting to spend time with them.

Eden is still in active treatment. Despite doing so well her spine still has some residual tumor they couldn’t reach in surgery, so we continue our stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

Families like ours depend on the support from RMHC Alberta. When you support RMHC you are helping so many families just like ours. You are literally changing the lives of families going through their hardest time. 

– Veronica