Our journey to Ronald McDonald House started in June of 2009 when doctors found a mass in Kayla's brain.

On July 2nd she had her first recession when they removed a softball size tumor.

When the first pathology reports came back as benign I was beside myself with happiness – we have no cancer, I thought.

Our doctors sent slides of the tumor over to St. Jude Children’s Hospital for some additional testing and that’s when we received the devastating news – the tumor was not only malignant, but it was very aggressive.

As far as I see it, that was the first time St. Jude saved my daughter’s life. Had they not done additional testing we would have settled back into the comfort of “our little girl is just fine”. The second recession happened here in Memphis, but doctors couldn’t get the entire tumor, and once again it was growing back rapidly. That’s when we started a rigorous radiation schedule. Kayla went through it like a champ and that finally stabilized the tumor.

When we first arrived we were still in shock, and we barely left our room for the first couple of weeks.

Everything was new, we were scared and we needed time to adjust. When we finally emerged from our room we were all amazed.

The care and love is everywhere here. Kayla loved the colors, the people, the kids, the toys, all the playgrounds. It was wonderful to see her happy and comfortable regardless of what she was going through. She made a lot of friends immediately. 

Ronald McDonald House® just feels like home. It’s hard to explain how you can find that comfort that you only associate with your own house, with your own family in a completely new place. This House has truly become our “home-away-from-home” and the staff and families we share this home with are now our family. We have laughed together, cried together, found strength in each other, and saw our children do the same together. Having a safe haven like Ronald McDonald House® at times like these is simply priceless.

It’s been difficult not having my husband and Kayla’s brothers with us but Kayla and I have shared this journey together. 

As a mother there is nothing more heartbreaking than witnessing the illness of your child. We are a team though and just like before we will battle through the obstacles coming our way. The bond between us girls has never been stronger

We spend every hour of every day together and we take advantage of all the activities here at the House to make the most of our stay. We attend every activity and we can’t wait for the nightly meals provided by volunteer groups. 

The circumstances are not ones we would have chosen, but having had the opportunity to share this year with my daughter has been incredible.

- Jennifer (Kayla’s Mom)

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