When I was cleaning up I overheard many conversations. Parents, coming together after a day at various treatments, check ups and appointments were listening to each other. A parent with concerns about a procedure the following day was reminded she could call the doctor to clarify instructions first thing in the morning. There were no tears. While stirring pasta and discussing the merits of whole foods diets, I heard a mother tell of a family she bonded with last year and that family’s child lost his battle with cancer. She continued to cook, the other mom continued to listen. They were able to speak without explaining medical terms to friends and family, they didn’t have to worry about upsetting anyone, they were among a unique family. One mother said “they’re supposed to be children, they’re supposed to have a childhood! But he (her son) doesn’t seem to mind. Sometimes I feel bad.” And for many many children every year, this home-away-from-home becomes a part of their childhood, a weird, fun, painful, healing, part of their childhood. The children here are with a parent; lucky is the child who has two parents here, or a grandparent. Despite having an ill child, there are other children to care for at home, mortgages to pay and jobs to keep so often parents rotate here. One at a time, weekends together, but weeks and weeks apart. Without the daily support of other parents, this journey would much bleaker for them. Their lives are disrupted by cancer, but they have a haven, a space to live and share and care and laugh and learn from others. Studies show that helps survival rates, and the donations from Radiothon and other RMH fundraisers keep this place going.
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