Imagine living in Memphis, TN your whole life with little travel outside the country. Suddenly, you have to leave for Peru for an indefinite time with your critically ill child. Your Spanish is limited, and everything you know is in Memphis.
Well, that is the reverse of the experience of the Ayala family. They lived their whole lives in Piura, Peru. They gave up everything to come to the USA, to Memphis, TN, leaving behind school, work, career, and family. They gave up all for their two-year-old son, Liam, who was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma.
The Ayalas had heard of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital but were not familiar with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis. They have stayed at RMHC Memphis twice now. Juan Carlos, the father, said, “Thank you for the help you give us day to day so that we can have happy days and forget all the bad things.”
Thoroughout our interview, Liam listened to music on headphones. His mother, Silvana, says that he likes country music. In fact, she says, “One day at the hospital, the nurse gave him her cellphone, and it was playing children’s music. Liam listened for a minute, but then threw the cellphone because he didn’t like the music.”
Juan Carlos says, “The most difficult part of all of this was when the doctor told me that Liam would lose one of his eyes. I fight and live every day for our son. We know that we are here today, but tomorrow we do not know.”
According to his parents, Liam is relaxed and happy at the Ronald McDonald House and the whole family is able to forget the Hospital for a little while. Silvana adds, “Something we can say is that we have everything we need here at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis . The House is clean, with milk, the kitchen, and the pantry. Also, the playground is big, which Liam loves. “
Special thanks for translation by Luz Vargas