Jane remembers the harrowing midnight drive from Kennewick, WA to Seattle Children’s hospital as one of the hardest nights of her life. She’d taken her five-month-old son to the ER for what seemed like the stomach flu, but doctors quickly spotted something much more serious after doing an ultrasound: a tumor on his liver. “The hospital in Kennewick sent us straight to Seattle Children’s. They said no stops, don’t have dinner or anything – just drive all the way to Seattle,” Jane says. Jane and her family arrived at 4am with just a change of clothes and the faith that things would work out.
Luckily, their son was able to start chemotherapy not long after their arrival in Seattle. However, the treatment plan would last a few months and include several rounds of chemotherapy and a major surgery to remove the tumor. The staff at the hospital put them in touch with the House and soon they were on the list for a room. Like many people, they had heard of the Ronald McDonald House, but didn’t know how extensive our services are. “I really had no idea what it would be like. I guess I just thought of a McDonald’s – sort of red and yellow, with plastic seats or something,” Jane recalls. “But instead, it’s an amazing place – it’s clean, modern, and you instantly feel welcome.”
Since the family moved in, the House has become a haven when everything happening around them is stressful. Jane says that she realized that the House was home when she felt a sense of relief when returning from a long day at the hospital. “I noticed when I was coming back from the hospital that as soon as I got here, I felt more relaxed and everything from the hospital kind of melted away- and then I realized that I really did consider this home,” says Jane.
The family has also taken advantage of the House’s close location to the Burke Gilman Trail, frequently taking walks in the serene environment. “I feel that when people are going through so much emotional trauma, you need sunshine,” Jane laughs. Jane says she and her two-year-old daughter spend at least some time every day on the playground at the House as well.
In addition to housing, some of our other services have proved helpful for the family. Having dinner on the table at the end of a long clinic day has been a wonderful feature for Jane and her family. She says that it is not only a blessing to have the food, but also to see that there is a huge community who cares about her family’s wellbeing every day. “It’s inspired me to look for the needs around me,” Jane says. “Everyone does so much for us here – from making meals, to cleaning, to running the Family Resource Center – I definitely want to give back when I can.”
Jane and her family will be at the House for several more months as her son finishes treatment – and we’re glad that we can be a “home-away-from-home” for them until they can return to the Tri-Cities.