Video: Ireland’s Story
Watch Ireland’s family speak about their journey to the Seattle House and the welcoming community they found there.
Tori Wylam, Ireland’s mother: My name is Tori Wylam and we’re from Yakima. Ireland is a spunky, strong-willed three-year-old. November 27th was her third birthday, and it was that weekend that we started to see things that were unusual.
Robert Wylam, Ireland’s father: Slowly and surely throughout the month, we started losing coordination on her left side and she started having trouble using her left hand.
Tori: A couple days before Christmas, she was screaming, so desperate, in pain, inconsolable. And so we took her to the emergency room. We had her do a series of tests, and one of those was to touch her nose and then reach out and touch the doctor’s finger. With her right hand, she did that effortlessly. With her left hand, her hand just began to sway, and I think the air just left the room.
Over the course of that weekend, she started dragging her left leg, she couldn’t use her left hand at all, and ultimately the left side of her face began to droop. New Years Eve night, my husband awoke to her screaming and trembling, and she was almost unable to speak.
Robert: And at that moment, we decided to take her to Seattle Children’s hospital to the emergency room.
Tori: So we jumped in the car and drove through a snowstorm and got her there.
Robert: We were all in the emergency room and the doctor asked, what’s your worst fear?
Tori: I uttered that my biggest fear was a brain tumor. She said, ours too.
Robert: An hour passed and the doctor came back and put the CT scan on the board, and there was a big mass in her brain. And you could look at it and know there was something wrong with that picture.
Tori: They estimated it was roughly 25% of her total brain mass. Not knowing if that was malignant or benign, not knowing if it was in a place they would be able to remove it, knowing really nothing except that something was horribly wrong. It was a moment that I couldn’t put into words. The world stopped for us.
Robert: My wife and I walked out and we cried together, and we made the phone calls to our family to let them know that our daughter had a brain tumor. Just a flood of emotions.
Tori: When we found out that she had a tumor, we went straight to the ICU.
Robert: After surgery, we we met with the doctors, they said, we were able to get the whole tumor out. Unfortunately, after they removed the tumor, they diagnosed her with brain cancer. And that’s when we were told that we would have to stay here for eight months.
We were staying at hotels, and when we heard about the Ronald McDonald House, we were calling every day because it was catered to kids that are going through cancer or some other diagnosis.
Tori: Ronald McDonald offered the kind of environment for our kid that, going through something like this, you don’t find other places.
Robert: We continued to call, and we were so grateful that in late January, a room opened for us and we were able to move in.
Tori: Ronald McDonald House has helped our family tremendously. It really became home for us. When we walked into our room, it was like a sigh of relief, and it became a sanctuary to our family, which I would never have predicted that happening. We would come home after a long day of appointments and there was food already prepared for us, and volunteers that gave their time and effort to serve and bless families like ours. The time and the energy that saved us as the parents of a sick child, you can’t put that into words.
Robert: Ireland is looking great, and her outlook is very promising.
Tori: She finished her last of 30 radiation treatments, and as of now she’s cancer-free and starting pre-school in the fall. We pray that she’ll go on to live a long life.
I am most grateful for people that we’ve met, friendships, the people we met at the front desk and serving dinner. I was told how much of this place was supported by donations.
Robert: When you’re donating to Ronald McDonald House, it’s going somewhere. You never know, until you’re in that moment of desperation and you need somewhere to stay close to the hospital. Ronald McDonald opens its doors to those families. We are so grateful and so thankful for Ronald McDonald House, and I can’t imagine the situation we’d be in if there wasn’t a Ronald McDonald House for our family.
I never thought in a million years that my daughter would have cancer, and she did have cancer. And Ronald McDonald opened their doors to my family and helped us out in a desperate time of need.
Tori: You guys have changed our lives and you’ve carried us through this journey. I thank you for playing a part in Ireland’s life and teaching her about compassion. There’s no doubt that her time here, with this staff and the residents, will change her life and make her a better person.
You can click here to read more about Ireland’s story.