Alex and his sister

Alex Suarez Jr. Rings the Bell Proclaiming He’s Cancer Free

My son, Alex, is a spunky, brilliant, humorous, life-loving child. At just 5 years old, and as the baby of a family with six siblings, he rules the house with his charm and wit!

However, when he was born, things were not so optimistic. We rushed from Thomasville, Georgia, to Scottish Rite with a four-hour ambulance ride because of a rare syndrome called Wildervanck, which affects bones in the neck, eyes, and ears. It was then that we met the wonderful staff at the Ronald McDonald House. They opened their doors, and we felt like family.

Multiple surgeries, a feeding tube, a genetics doctor and therapy filled his first 18 months. Just when it appeared life would return to normal again, Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic T-Cell Leukemia.

We would make nearly 50 trips to Atlanta in 2016. This meant living out of suitcases with our family of eight spread out. In times like these, it’s easy to feel alone and discouraged. The one thing that stands out is the familiar comfort provided through the Ronald McDonald House staff and families.

Everyone knew Alex and his sister, Nora. They genuinely seemed excited whenever he showed up. He felt like a rock star. Even the volunteers remembered him and gave him the red-carpet treatment. Every time we walked in the Peachtree Dunwoody House from a long trip, they all would get so excited.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room was a great little break from the constant waiting. It was a great distraction for the kids and offered them fun things to do outside of the four walls of the hospital room.

Alex and his parents

Alex and his parents

One of the greatest milestones for Alex was ringing the bell at the cancer center to celebrate his final treatment. To our surprise, the House had a bell for Alex to ring too. Even though he is only 5, he understands he doesn’t have any more treatments. Ringing the bell was a real celebration for him.

Today, Alex is thriving! We visit the House monthly for doctor’s appointments to make sure his numbers recover properly. He absolutely loves his friends at the Ronald McDonald House! He thinks they are all there just for him! And, from what we can tell, they really are!

We can’t say enough about the role the House has played in his treatment and recovery. I honestly don’t think he would have been able to make it to some of his treatments without it. We discussed other facilities in other cities, but chose Atlanta in part because of our relationship with our Ronald McDonald House family.

— Alex Suarez Sr.