His diagnosis changed his family's life in a day
When Jake was 9 years old, his parents, Steve and Karen, noticed he had yellow in the whites of his eyes. He’d been having flu-like symptoms, but something more seemed wrong. After tests at a nearby hospital, Jake was rushed by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in London, 140 km away from their home in Wallaceburg, Ontario. “The diagnosis was Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that started in his abdomen and spread to his bone marrow,” explains Steve. “Within a day, Jake was on an extreme course of chemotherapy with serious side effects that would keep him in the hospital for the next two months.”
Karen stayed at Jake’s bedside while Steve drove back and forth between London and Wallaceburg, going to work and looking after their other children, Nick and Abbey. But the travelling was taking its toll. The children’s grandparents came in from Nova Scotia, so Steve could join Karen and Jake.
“We were absolutely not leaving Jake alone, but staying at the hospital and moving in and out of motels was difficult. Thankfully, the hospital told us about Ronald McDonald House. They welcomed us, and we were given a very nice room and bathroom with all the amenities, including the use of a kitchen. And it was only five minutes from Children’s Hospital.”
Over the next eight months, Jake received eight rounds of chemotherapy and once ended up in intensive care. During that time, Karen and Steve stayed at Ronald McDonald House 12 times, for a total 103 nights. Jake’s siblings sometimes came to visit on weekends. “They always made a place for us. It was our home away from home.”
The family was relieved when Jake was permitted to leave the hospital. “When we come back to London for appointments, we always stop at Ronald McDonald House. We hold them near and dear to our hearts for the hospitality and support we were provided during that very difficult time.”