Family Stories

Ronald McDonald House Makes Mom Feel at Home

Childhood cancer is never routine and it takes its toll on the whole family, but having to travel hundreds of miles from home for your child’s treatment can make things feel impossible.

Within days of learning from doctors that her son Luke had cancer, Marie Hutzelmann packed up her things and headed for Memphis. 

The Hammond, La., native said the diagnosis was scary, but when she arrived at Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, she immediately felt at home. Most importantly, she knew that she was somewhere where Luke would be comfortable.

“It’s been heartening to be around other kids and families who are going through a similar situation. It’s definitely tough being far from home and family, but Ronald McDonald House provides such a warm and comforting environment, so I can focus on Luke and not worry about a safe place to stay while we are getting treatment at St. Jude,” Marie said.

“When we come back to the Ronald McDonald House after a long day of appointments, the bright colorful walls and the hallways filled with huge stuffed animals always help brighten Luke’s spirits, which as a mom with a sick kid, makes me feel better.”

Marie said she hasn’t really felt like cooking with everything that has been going on, so she really appreciates when they come back to the Ronald McDonald House and having a warm meal, prepared by local volunteer groups waiting for them.

Families can’t always bring all their comforts from home, but Ronald McDonald House of Memphis tries to fill in the voids.   “Luke also loves when the therapy dogs are here to play with the kids,” she said. “We both really miss our pets back in Louisiana.”

“It is a challenge not being in the comfort of your own four walls and being out of work,” she said. “Ronald McDonald House tries to take all the worry away from you, so you don't have to stress out about things like being away from home, losing an income, because you are already stressed out with the cancer diagnosis.”

Posted by John Parie at 3:32 PM
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