A smile can light up a room, and baby Desta has been lighting up our entire House with hers! Staying at RMH London with her parents since November, Desta has shared a smile with almost everyone she sees – giving our staff, volunteers and House families a reminder that, even in the hardest times, there can be a reason to smile.
Born February 21st 2015 in Durham, ON, Desta was a welcome addition to the Plante family. With three siblings at home, it was no surprise when she caught her first cold the following November. When her cough worsened Desta’s mom, Allison, and Dad, Justin, took her to the local hospital. It wasn’t until their second visit on November 15th that Desta was rushed to the hospital in Owen Sound where an X-Ray revealed a mass on her right lung. From there Desta and her mom were rushed to London’s Children’s Hospital for further testing, with dad making the long drive behind them. In one day, Allison and Justin’s world went from having a sick baby to having a seriously ill child in need of immediate medical care.
The mass was diagnosed as Neuroblastoma and Allison and Justin needed to prepare to be in London for the foreseeable future while their daughter received treatment. They never expected to have to come to London, let alone have time to pack for their trip, which meant they arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. Staying in Desta’s hospital room for that first week, Allison was introduced to RMHC through her use of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, “I think it was day 4 when I finally left Desta’s bedside to go take a shower in the Family Room. It was so nice to have a place to grab a snack, and then being able to do laundry and have fresh clothes was even better.”
By November 26th the family had a bedroom at Ronald McDonald House just steps away from LHSC, where Allison could stay with Desta between treatments while dad travelled back and forth tending to life back home. The House has been here to keep mom close to her daughter, give dad flexibility to take care of the kids back home, and provide a space where Desta’s siblings and grandparents can come to visit. When she isn’t staying in the hospital for treatments, Desta loves to explore in the play rooms (especially the one with all the really, really loud toys), watch the fish in the fish tank, and get all the attention she can from our volunteers.
While the journey isn’t over yet, Desta’s mass has shrunk since starting chemo which is a positive sign. She is able to spend most days here in the House crawling around the dining area and making friends. The House has truly become a home away from home for the Plante family, where they have seen their daughter master the art of crawling, make her first friend with another child in-house and even grow her first two front teeth. While we hope they get to go home soon, we are prepared to give Desta her first birthday party too!
Our three programs, RMH London, RMH Windsor and the RM Family Room London were able to provide supportive services to 2,789 families with sick kids.
RMH London and RMH Windsor provided 13,394 nights of comfort to 1,202 families, close to their seriously ill children.
With the support of 254 volunteer kitchen groups, we have been able to provide 1,619 meals - from breakfast to lunch to dinner - giving families more time with their sick children.
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