Our story began when we noticed-couldn't help but notice-a large growth on Elijah's neck.
Alarmed, my husband Ronnie and I took our three-year-old son to the pediatrician, who couldn't find a cause. We grew more worried and frustrated as many more visits to various doctors and specialists revealed nothing.
Deep inside I just knew, as any mother would, that my baby wasn't okay and something was terribly wrong. Then we received the call that changed our lives forever. "Get here quickly," they said. "As fast as you can!" At the hospital we heard the news that no parent is ever prepared to hear: our baby had cancer. "Stage 4 Neuroblastoma," the doctor said. "This is serious." Aggressive and immediate treatment would be required.
At that moment, despite my own fear and shattered heart, I resolved to be strong for my son and do whatever I could to help him through the dreadful journey that lay ahead.
The following months were filled with a dizzying array of medical terms, treatments, chemotherapy, and radiation. We were adjusting to long days and longer nights in the hospital to be close to Elijah and comfort him through the endless cycle of medical procedures and the brutal side effects.
We soon found ourselves at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, which quickly became a haven of hope and support during those trying times. The House provided a home-away-from-home where we could unwind from stressful days and sleepless nights at the hospital and find comfort in other families who had been in our shoes. The kindness, care, and support we received at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford sustained us through the worst of times--when we were fearful of what the next day would bring.
It's been nearly five years since Elijah was diagnosed. Since then, we've endured a roller coaster of ups and downs, including three remissions, followed by three heartbreaking relapses. Some days, it takes every ounce of courage I have to stay hopeful.
No matter how trying or disappointing the day has been, when I look into Elijah's happy eyes, I find hope.
Throughout the years, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford has been our oasis of serenity and peace. Despite the chaos and anxiety in our life, I know that here we are surrounded by love. Elijah can forget about doctors and painful procedures and enjoy being a playful little boy while I refuel and rest in order to be the best mother possible when he needs me most.
On behalf of my family and so many others like mine, I ask you to please make a donation to Ronald McDonald House at Stanford today.
I know from experience that your gift truly helps families focus on their number one priority: the health and well-being of their critically ill child.