Hailey started to get sick in August 2009, the day before she started fourth grade.
She had severe pains in her upper thighs and a fever, but after a doctor’s visit, the pain lessened and the fever broke. Everything seemed fine.
Hailey was back to normal, going to school, playing with friends, and not complaining that she felt bad. But during a sleepover at the end of August her symptoms returned. For fear of the flu I decided to bring her to the Emergency Room that night.
After some blood work, a flu test and a chest x-ray I was told, that Hailey was anemic and that they needed to run more tests. The next morning Hailey’s doctor called and gave me the diagnosis that I never expected – Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), we were devastated. The following night we arrived in Memphis.
Not long after we arrived at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Hailey and I were placed at Ronald McDonald House®. This would become our “home-away-from-home”, as Hailey received her first round of treatment and we have since returned to the House a couple of times through her follow up treatments.
Ronald McDonald House® has been a safe haven, filled with wonderful and helpful people, all ready to lend a helping hand.
We are one of 51 families staying in this magical place, where kids dealing with the daily grind of cancer treatments can just be regular kids, where parents worrying for their sick child can find solace, comfort, advice and a shoulder to cry on.
Having kids Hailey’s age for her to play and interact with has been such a blessing and a truly welcome distraction. And the support from other parents, going through similar if not the same circumstances has been irreplaceable.
Ronald McDonald House® has been a God send. The game room, the fun colors, the cool playgrounds, the toys, the volunteers who come play with the kids have all allowed Hailey to feel like she’s still just a normal, regular kid.
She’s taking everything in stride, and she knows she is not alone! This house is full of people who are here for us every step of the way!
Since arriving, my brain has been wrapped around nothing but Hailey. What a comfort it is that I am capable of doing that. And that I have nothing else to worry about. We have a House to come home to, friends to support and love us, volunteers and staff to provide meals and entertainment.
We can focus on Hailey and getting better – that is a gift I treasure!
- Michelle (Hailey’s Mom)