Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Written by Shelley Mitchell
Our 12-year-old daughter, Chelsea was diagnosed on July 16, 2013 with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). She did three rounds of chemotherapy, which took eight months. The treatments were harsh but the worst part was that she was not responding to treatments like the doctors hoped. On December 20, we received the news that she would have to undergo a stem cell transplant in order to beat the horrible disease that continued to invade her body. At that time we were terrified and overwhelmed with the information. We did not know what to expect seeing as how we lived eight hours away from Calgary. There was no going home for a long time. Thankfully we had been welcomed to tour the Ronald McDonald House the month before we were to leave for transplant. It looked very homey and we knew that we would be ok.
On March 8, 2014 we headed to Calgary for transplant, all five of us. Chelsea had her transplant on March 20, after seven days of intense chemo followed by a day of radiation. Ronald McDonald House truly was our home away from home. The first couple weeks in hospital were rough, but the staff and volunteers were amazing in helping us transition into our new surroundings. We spent most of our time at the hospital, but it was so nice to be able to take our other two daughters, Cassidy (nine) and Cristyn (four) back to the House for a home cooked meal and a much needed break from Chelsea’s hospital room. Cristyn and Cassidy both loved the playroom, the family TV rooms and most of all, the craft room. The girls were also blessed to celebrate their birthdays at the House as well with amazing cakes made by the wonderful volunteers. Chelsea turned 13, Cassidy turned 10 and Cristyn turned five all during our stay at the House. As parents, we feel blessed and thankful that the girls could still have a special birthday even being so far away from home. The staff looked out for all of us and treated us all like family.
Chelsea was in and out of the hospital a lot, spending 53 out of 113 days in hospital. On the days that she was able to spend at the House, she would participate along with her sisters in the many activities put on by the staff and volunteers at the House. Our favourite part as a family was Monday night Bingo. This gave us something to look forward to every week. I cannot thank Ronald McDonald House enough for all that they do to make families like us feel welcome and support us through such difficult times.
On June 26, 2014 we received Chelsea’s biopsy results and she had 100% donor cells and no more cancer cells. We felt so blessed that our daughter was now in remission.
Leaving the House was hard and going home was scary after being gone for 113 days, but we have made life-long friendships with some amazing people, not only with the other House guests, but with the staff too. Thank you, Ronald McDonald House for all that you do. We will always be grateful.
Since we’ve been home we have enjoyed every second that cancer is not in our house. We are blessed to have had this new chance on life and we are going continue to live it and not waste it.