Waking up with a raspy cough usually means one thing…you have a cold. That is exactly what Margaret and Frank Neufeld thought when their 4 year old son Nathan had a wheezing cough that wouldn't go away. The clinics they took him to all said the same thing — don't worry it's just a cold.
Taking the advice, Margaret bought some cough medicine and expected Nathan to feel better in no time — unfortunately that wasn't the case.
On the morning of February 25th, 2013, just days after being told "it is just a cold", Nathan was not getting enough air into his lungs and his parents decided it was necessary to call 911. Rushed to the hospital near their home town of Leamington, Ontario, an X-Ray revealed something the doctor did not know how to explain. Margaret remembers the visit like it was yesterday,
The doctor showed me the chest X-Ray and all you could see was blurriness — it didn't show my son's heart or lungs, just blur. The doctor wouldn't tell me what it was.
Nathan and his mother were flown immediately by helicopter to London's Children's Hospital where, on February 26th, Nathan was diagnosed with leukemia.
The months to come were full of uncertainty for the Neufeld family, but one thing they learned quickly was life doesn't stop; Margaret was pregnant with her third child, Frank still had to work and sister Emily still needed attention too. While Nathan received treatment for his leukemia, the House was there to help the family with all the other things still going on in their lives. Frank was able to stay home and continue working at his business while Margaret and Emily could stay close to Nathan and use the free long distance calling to stay in touch with family back home. Ronald McDonald House Southwestern Ontario has been an on-again off-again "home away from home" for the family for 8 months, and in that time it has lifted so many burdens.
At the House, Margaret explains, time went by faster, dinners tasted better, and friends could be made easier.
There were so many families there who understood what we were going through, we were even able to have our family come and visit in the main living area…it felt like we were at home!
Without Ronald McDonald House, the Neufeld family would have had to pay for a hotel, all their meals, gas for traveling back and forth to the hospital and parking while they were there. All these expenses add up, but the House was there to lift those financial burdens.
Diagnosed in February, Nathan finished his final intense treatment in mid-October and the family was able to return home while he undergoes maintenance therapy. There is still a long road ahead, but as Nathan gets excited to meet his new brother or sister the family can begin to look forward, and find relief in knowing the House will always be there if they need it.
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