Fairbridge family grateful for Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House is something you don’t want to use, but if you need it, you’re glad it’s there.

The McLean family of Fairbridge is one of thousands of families to have benefitted from Ronald McDonald House, which opened a new facility on the campus of the BC Children’s Hospital on June 16.

The McLeans have stayed at Ronald McDonald House many times since July 2011 as Amelie, now 10, has received treatment for leukemia. The facility allowed Amelie and her family to stay in Vancouver while she underwent chemotherapy, which included one long-term stay of approximately one year.

"It was great," Amelie’s mom, Jeanette, said. "I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t stayed there."

Amelie and Jeanette spent the most time at Ronald McDonald House, although they were constantly going back and forth from the hospital, sometimes staying there for three to five days at a time. Dad Doug and younger sister Miranda stayed on the Island most of the time, but were able to stay at RMH when they were in Vancouver as well.

Being able to stay in a homey atmosphere with other families had numerous benefits for the McLeans.

"We made some very good friends with the other families," Jeanette said.

During treatment, Amelie experienced a few strokes, resulting in brain and nerve damage. To help restore strength and abilities, she underwent physical therapy and therapeutic horseback riding, and now has a modified physical education plan. Amelie is now at home in Fairbridge full-time, but has to make visits to the hospital from time to time, and will have to until she is about 20 because of the high chance that her leukemia will return.

"Amelie had her last chemo in October, but we’re still back and forth for blood work and checkups once a month," Jeanette said.

The McLeans will get to stay at the new Ronald McDonald House when they head over in July, and once again, they will be grateful.

"It won’t be as personal as the old one, but it’s right on the hospital grounds, which will make it a lot easier for parents," Jeanette said.