In memory of Kaitlin Boyda
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think our family would need Ronald McDonald House. Then, in July of 2009, our daughter Kaitlin – the youngest of four – was diagnosed with a brain tumour just days after her 16th birthday. We came to Calgary from Lethbridge for her radiation treatment and were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House. I remember our first night there, with all the anxiety that comes with a newly sick child, being greeted as soon as we came through the front doors by a beautiful bald two-year-old named Julia and immediately feeling at home.
The staff was amazing and so quick to welcome our family into their open arms. The sense of family and understanding that comes with being in the company of others going through similar circumstances is overwhelming. It is a form of support that comes from shared experiences and the conversations that took place with other parents in the house were more real and valuable than can be expressed.
On super stressful days, Kaitlyn loved to go and feed the ducks in the nearby pond. One day, we found a loaf of bread on our fridge shelf. We quickly assumed that someone had misplaced it only to discover that one of the other families had noticed this was Kaitlin’s stress reliever and had left her this bread to use.
In the House, you grow to celebrate the joys that come from victories in the lives of other families and grieve the heartache of those same families, as well. Our daughter passed away in May 2011 after a 22 month battle and three different stays at the House. One of the things that I remember so vividly is a phone call that came from one of the staff at the House, telling me she had heard about Kaitlin’s passing. She told me how sorry she was and shared some of her memories of Kaitlin with me.
We will forever be grateful for the gift of Ronald McDonald House and it will forever be part of our family history. The impact these wonderful, strong families has had on my life has helped me become a better person.
By: Brenda Watson
Kaitlin’s Legacy: During Kaitlin’s stay at RMH Calgary, she helped create a special space in the Magic Room just for teens. Because of her, teenagers who stay at the House get to experience the magic of our Magic Room just as the younger children do.