Five Fantastic Mums Share Their Journey
We’re in awe of all the super mums that come in and out of our Houses. Their strength, resilience, and perseverance throughout their child’s medical journey is inspiring.
All of our mums are incredible, so this Mother’s Day we wanted to share a few stories that we’ve heard from our Houses about the mums they’ve met.
Kate, Southampton House
James was diagnosed with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, a rare form of heart disease when he was just three years old. His family were told that James’ only option was to find a new heart and they waited 15 months for a suitable donor. The heart transplantation went well, but during the long nervous wait for adonorJames became extremely ill and suffered a complete kidney failure. Again, his only course of action was to find a new kidney and so his mother Kate, selflessly donated one of hers to save him.
“It felt like a natural thing to do,” said Kate. “It was such a relief to discover that I was a viable match. I was scared about the operation due to the risks involved but I was more worried about James. He had been unwell for so long that I just wanted him to be better. By the time of the surgery, I was mentally prepared for it. The recovery was tough, and it took a couple of months for me to feel well again but importantly James felt so much better within a few days and my kidney gave him new lease of life.”
Throughout James’ journey to recovery, Ronald McDonald House Southampton supported his family and kept them close to him. He is now nine years old and his health has turned a huge corner; his doctors say he’s a walking miracle.
Elena, Southampton House
When Elena’s daughter Sabrina was diagnosed with cancer, her whole world changed. Elena struggled to accept that something like this had happened to her child and that she might lose the most precious thing in her life.
Sabrina underwent treatment at Southampton General Hospital, and Elena stayed at our Southampton House during the most difficult part of the treatment. Later, she commuted back and forth whilst running her bridal shop.
“I’ve simply done everything I could to support Sabrina through this experience,” explained Elena.
“When you’re faced with a challenge like this, you have no choice but to become stronger and be there for your loved ones. I always remained positive and never lost my faith.
“My advice to others going through a similar situation is to remain positive at all times and never give up. Never be negative or have negative thoughts and fears around your loved ones going through an illness. I am a strong believer that love has amazing powers we’re unaware of.
“My motivation to get me through this was the vision that I’ve always had for Sabrina and her future. Her illness was never part of my vision, and subsequently, I refused to believe that she could not overcome this.
“Last week, the results of her scan showed that Sabrina is now cancer-free, and it is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.
“We met so many amazing people through this, and I truly believe that I would not have been able to get through this life challenge without them.
“The positivity, love, dedication and compassion shown by the Southampton House was so important for mine and Sabrina’s wellbeing.”
There are many mums out there who are facing a similar situation to Elena and Sabrina. We hope this small look into their journey will help other mums out there feel less alone.
Sally, Birmingham House
Spectacular mum Sally has brought joy to other mums every year by making sure they’re pampered and relaxed on Mother’s Day!
It all started in 2014 when Joy from our Birmingham House put a shout out on Facebook looking for beauticians and hairdressers to donate their time and skills to treat mums staying at the House.
Sally quickly replied and brought along with her more ladies who have made Mothers’ Day one of the biggest and most successful events in our Birmingham House.
Each year, the event has gone from strength to strength, with Sally recruiting even more helpers. This year, we will have 12 volunteers made up of hairdressers, eyebrow and nail technicians, make-up artists, and masseurs!
As well as being the force behind this annual event, Sally visits the House once a month to provide free hairdressing services for parents who are staying in the House whilst their child is in hospital. She understands that our families scarcely have time to think about themselves when they’re worried about their child. So Sally makes sure parents can book in an appointment with her at the House, have a cup of tea and get a touch of normality in a stressful time.
This is the first year Sally won’t be joining the brigade on Mother’s Day, as she’s expecting her very first child! After years of looking after our mums, it’s time someone looked after this new mum!
Hayley, Tooting House
Dedicated mum of three Hayley stayed in our Tooting House when her son Klay was born with Gastroschisis.
“Klay would have to undergo various operations, but we lived a two-hour round-trip away from St George’s Hospital – we were desperate for a room at the Tooting House and thankful we got one,” said Hayley.
Despite the difficult circumstances, she found the strength and time to support other mums, not only in the House but on the hospital ward too.
Quite often, she would bring other families who were struggling over to the House for support and a break. She brought families together, and they all helped each other, talking about their situations. Thanks to Hayley’s dedication, even the shyer families opened up about their journey.
Since leaving the House, Hayley has been a tremendous supporter, and her love for the House and Charity is clear to see. She was even able to use the House towards the end of their hospital stay to help her prepare to care for Klay and his ongoing conditions.
Gemma, Southampton House
Gemma and her partner Shane have been supporting the Charity to help families like theirs stay close to their child in hospital. They know how important it is after staying with us when their baby needed an operation on his duodenum, part of the small intestine.
“At 20 weeks, we knew that our baby would need to be born at Princess Anne Hospital and have the operation. Riley had his operation at two days old,” said mum Gemma.
For the last couple of years, she has held a bingo night that raises nearly £1,000 and will hold one at the end of this year too.
“My biggest motivation every day are our children, watching them grow and achieve their milestones.
“Mums, it’s okay to ask for support and advice from others. My best advice would be to talk about the ups and downs, your good and bad days; we all have them. Trust your instincts. Every parent’s journey is different.
“We cannot thank Ronald McDonald House Charities enough for all their support at such a difficult time. The staff have a special place in our hearts, and they helped ease the pain and sadness whilst Riley was in hospital. Raising money for this fantastic charity is the least we can do.”