08 Sep Meet the Smith Family
This June, Jack Smith was looking forward to a summer of fun. He had spent six weeks of his 2015 summer at our House near Egleston after having a selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery to help treat his muscle spasticity, and was looking forward to a summer without rehab. However, a new diagnosis interrupted his plans. Jack has a grade 3 glioma called anaplastic astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. To complicate his diagnosis, he also has BRAF mutations and p16 protein loss, which make it harder for his body to fight tumors. Jack was not a candidate for chemo radiation, so he is being treated with daily oral chemo medication aimed at shrinking his tumors.
“When your pathology report says your son has a rare, large, bizarre tumor, your world is torn apart,” said Candice, Jack’s mother.
We don’t ever want families to need us, but when they do, we’re glad our Houses are here for them to offer a safe haven of comfort. Candice and Jack have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House near CHOA at Scottish Rite since June 24th of this year.
“The House is like a second home to us, the people, the volunteers, the staff, they know us by name. Even just from our six week stay last summer,” Candice said. “The friendships we have made here will last a lifetime.”
Being able to stay at the House and receive day rehab with other children facing similar battles has given Jack hope and a peer group at the House.
“They have all become friends. They encourage each other, they laugh with each other and play with each other,” Candice said. Jack agrees; his favorite memory of the house has been playing with other kids.
Candice’s favorite memory has been meeting other families and hearing their stories. Though her daughter and husband have not been able to stay with them at our House since school started, the Smith family considers our House their “home-away-from-home” and they feel supported here.
“The experience at the House is wonderful. I can’t say one bad thing about it. It’s like your home,” Candice said. “It becomes really tight knit, almost like your family.”
With daily care, Jack has been able to get rid of his walker. His daily chemo treatment has also begun shrinking his tumors. Though there is no cure for his cancer, the 24-hour care Jack receives while staying at our House is integral in controlling its progression. Jack and his mom hope to be able to go home in between treatment cycles.
“The Ronald McDonald House means to us more than I can express in words,” Candice said. “I’m sure this is not our last time at the House, but we are so happy to have it.”
We are happy to be the Smith families’ “home-away-from-home” while they support Jack through his treatment.