Despite been diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of cancer at just 17-months-old, Mason continues to charm all around him and is about to celebrate his fourth birthday with his closest friends at Ronald McDonald House.
And for his mum, Alex, and dad, Hugh, RMHC has been their rock during the most challenging and emotional of times of their lives.
“I didn’t really know much about Ronald McDonald House before we came here,” says Alex. “I knew of it, but I didn’t really know what it all entailed and what services there are and what the Charity can do for families likes ours until we started living here. We’ve been here 14 months, and I feel like we’re part of the furniture now!”
The support of staff and volunteers has been exceptional. “We see them every day,” comments Alex. “If we just need to talk to someone, there’s someone always there to listen. If it wasn’t for all of the staff and the volunteers it would be a completely different experience. It wouldn’t feel as much like home. The emotional support has been amazing.”
Having other families nearby who are also going through the same trauma with their own children — and are able to understand and comprehend the impact having a sick child can have on a family has also been a positive experience for Alex and Hugh.
“Unless you’re going through it yourself, you don’t really have that understanding of how hard it is having a sick child,” says Alex. “It’s financially difficult. It’s emotionally difficult. Our friends here know what we’re going through, they know what we’ll be going through tomorrow. They know what we’ve gone through last week because they’ve been there too. We’ve made lifelong friends here that we’ll have for the rest of our lives.”
The comfort that this close-knit family support network provides is mirrored by the support and comfort provided day-in and day-out by RMHC staff and volunteers.
“I’m a bit frightened of going home now to be honest, because I’m not going to have all the help I have here,” laughs Alex. “Being serious, this place has been a lifesaver: emotionally and financially.”
“If we hadn’t had Ronald McDonald House, Mason would have missed out on his treatment,” she says. “Having to pay for accommodation would have been impossible. It makes such a difference having this here because we wouldn’t have been able to financially afford it. And like a lot of families, a lot of kids would go untreated because they wouldn’t be able to afford to stay anywhere else.”
Mason has already celebrated a birthday, Christmas and Easter at the House: and has won the hearts and minds of all the staff, which brings a huge smile to Alex’s face.
“Mason gets so spoiled by the volunteers and the staff here, they just love him,” says Alex. “It’s going to be a rude shock for him when he does get home and he doesn’t have 10,000 people fawning over him!”