Bringing families closer: RMHC and the Creer family embrace the power of summer Break

The Creer Family

In late November, 11-year-old Stella began having headaches and and vomiting. As these symptoms persisted, her parents grew increasingly concerned, fearing it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

During a CAT scan of Stella’s head, her doctors made a significant discovery—a tumor was present growing on her skull. To ensure she got the proper medical care she needed, the Creer family relocated from their hometown in Richland, WA, to Seattle. They bounced from hotel room to hotel room.

“I wanted to be at RMHC because I didn’t want to spend this very precious time fighting traffic,” April, Stella’s mom said. Stella needed to be close to the hospital at all times for her treatment and the only way they could make that happen was by staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

After successfully removing the tumor, the medical team disclosed to them that the tumor was identified as Ewing sarcoma, a form of cancer that would need chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate any remaining traces. As a result, their need for stable housing was projected to extend for 9 months.

“It was kind of a roller coaster because at home, we were given a diagnosis that her tumor was benign. So we thought, the mountain was to get the tumor removed and then we could start going back to normal,” Britt, Stella’s dad said.

In light of their daughter’s cancer diagnosis, Britt and April have quickly come to realize that trying to anticipate the unknown is impossible when navigating the challenges of childhood illness. “We just deal with it day by day and figure out what to do with the information we are given. You can’t really have a plan,” Britt explained.

April added, “we always prepared for a rainy day, but I would have never thought that it would be pediatric cancer.”

Luckily a few weeks after Stella’s surgery a room opened up at the Seattle Ronald McDonald House that was big enough to accommodate their family. During this unpredictable time, the House has become a source of stability and predictability, offering them nourishing meals, engaging activities, fresh linens, and a sense of normalcy amidst the uncertainty of their daughter’s illness.

A medical diagnosis can divide a home

When a sibling is diagnosed with an illness during the school year, it is common for one parent to remain at home, managing the household and daily responsibilities, while the other parent attends medical appointments and treatments with their sick child. Fortunately, the Creer family had family members who could care for Stella’s siblings during this time. Now, with the summer break, Stella has 3 of her six siblings here for the summer (3 siblings are older and working or away for college), and they can be reunited and live together once again as a family under one roof.

 “It does make a difference to Stella to have both of her parents here,” Britt said.  

Recently, the girls returned from an outing at the Woodland Park Zoo accompanied by their cousin. The following day, they gathered to celebrate Stella’s sister Ava’s 13th birthday at RMHC. 

“We have three of our kids here with us for the summer,” April said.  “It’s really a boon to Stella when she has her siblings here and it lets her have those sibling memories and have as much normalcy as we can right now.”

Assuming all goes according to plan, the Creer family looks forward to their departure in October. “I promised her that she can have a dog once she completes her cancer treatments,” Britt said. The chosen breed for Stella’s future furry companion is a Labradoodle.

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