November 12, 2015
Gage Holm, age 2, is on Day 30 of his treatment for Leukemia. That small statement has such huge impact for the Holm family from Kitchener. It means they have spent 18 days living out of the hospital, 3 weeks living at Ronald McDonald House London, 35 days since their lives turned upside down.
That first night in the hospital, when so much was unknown, they were greeted with a cup of coffee and a smile from an RMH volunteer working the FROG Cart* and after nights of being bedside with Gage, the Family Room sleep room allowed Mike and Sheila to each have a full night's sleep without waking for 4-hour vitals checks or from Gage's monitors beeping to call in the nursing staff. The shower and sleep rooms gave them the strength to feel like they could handle things again. . As Sheila said, "we learned pretty quickly that we couldn't both [Mike and I] sleep in the hospital room bed together beside Gage's crib" so RMH has helped this family be able to stay close to Gage night and day.
With Gage in the hospital, Mike and Sheila also worried about their 4-year-old, Kain. "My second thought, after hearing Gage's diagnosis was, Kain...how can he be away from his family for 30+ days?" Kain gets to visit Mom and Dad often at Ronald McDonald House, and calls it his 'other house.' He told his teacher at school, "My other house has an elevator." The family celebrated Hallowe'en at RMH this year, with the boys dressing up, playing activities, and even trick-or-treating in our local neighbourhood. Kain enjoys his visits at the House, the video game room, the activity areas, which keep him busy - his parents say, "He's 5, he can only last so long in the hospital room."
Speaking of RMH, Sheila says, "Everyone is awesome. This experience has restored our faith in humanity to see the good in people. We are hard workers, we never ask for anything in our regular lives, so it is hard for us to have to rely on others now. But everyone is so supportive here."
As this family awaits the next news from the latest round of tests, they can do it together. The steriods Gage is on currently have changed him from a walking, chatting boy to a quiet guy his parents barely recognize, but his Sheila and Mike have each other for support. Living close to the hospital at RMH, they are learning to administer Gage's medication, to prepare themselves for the recovery ahead, and can focus their attention on doing what they can to take the best care of their boy. As Sheila said, "It's everything, being able to be together."
* The FROG (Family Room on the Go) hospitality cart travels around to caregivers in Victoria hospital bringing coffee, tea, toys, and caring volunteers to rooms when parents may not even be able to make it to the Family Room down the hall.
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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