Blanca has been an extraordinary member of the community here at the Ronald McDonald House. Not only does she take care of Alexandra, her teenaged daughter being treated for bone cancer, but she also helps other families at the House find strength when they need it most.
“As a caregiver, you need support. When your child is fighting for their life, you feel broken – it’s painful. It’s an emotional tornado,” Blanca says. “You have to be strong – so you can help your child feel comfortable when you both feel so much fear.”
Blanca understands what many parents here at the House are going through. Like many others who stay with us, she and her daughter have had a difficult road before staying at the House. Blanca’s daughter had complained of pain in her arm, so they went to a local doctor. “I thought maybe the doctor was going to come back and say she needed a cast. Instead, he said, ‘I’m so sorry, I have bad news – it’s osteosarcoma – bone cancer.’ I just felt like I couldn’t breathe,” she says. That choking feeling never truly left Blanca while she watched her daughter get treated with very aggressive chemotherapy at their local hospital in British Columbia, Canada. After nine months, her daughter was referred to Seattle Children’s Hospital to pursue a special treatment called proton therapy. This targeted radiation is only available in a few hospitals in the United States.
They applied for housing at the Ronald McDonald House, but spent a few days in hotels before a room became available. When one opened up, it was an amazing day. “The first person I met at the House was Nancy – she is an extraordinary person. I came into the House and just talking with her, I started to feel this calm, this peace. I could feel the welcome this place has. For the first time since the diagnosis, I felt like I could breathe again,” says Blanca.
Blanca does her best to lift the spirits of those around her and has lent an open ear to many of the families living with her at the House. She knows how challenging it can be to have an ill child, but knows it’s better to face the challenge in a supportive environment than alone. She regularly invites other parents to join her at dinner or just to chat. “I always tell parents who are new – don’t be so stressed. You have to relax and take it day by day, otherwise you’re going to get sick. You have to be there for your kids, so you need to take care of yourself too!”
Blanca says that just being in the House for her is like “nutrients for [her] soul.” For Blanca and her daughter, the House has become a peaceful refuge, where they not only take time to heal themselves, but can also help others heal.
Stay tuned for our next blog, where Blanca’s daughter, Alexandra, tells her story!