07 Dec Ronald McDonald Family Room Becomes Haven for Panter Family
“I never had to worry about what time the cafeteria closed or if I was going to miss the doctor coming in because the Ronald McDonald Family Room was so close,” says mom, Lauren Panter from Fayetteville, Georgia. “I never was too far from my baby.”
Lauren’s daughter, Piper, is the youngest of four children. When Piper was only 4 months old, she was diagnosed with Stage MS Immediate Risk Neuroblastoma.
The morning Piper was diagnosed, she woke up with a high fever. From the time she was 1 month old, Piper had trouble during feeding. During the few days before her diagnosis, it was even more difficult. “She just seemed in pain… like something was wrong,” Lauren says.
Lauren took Piper to her pediatrician and mentioned that Piper’s stomach was unusually bloated. The pediatrician sent Piper for an X-Ray, which revealed a large mass in her abdomen and an enlarged liver.
Piper and Lauren were immediately sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Hours later, Lauren heard: “I’m so sorry but a member of the oncology team will come by to speak with you.”
“I suppose most parents are shocked when they hear their child has cancer, but ‘shocked’ doesn’t begin to describe how my husband and I felt when those words were spoken over our daughter,” Lauren says.
A few days later, tests confirmed Piper’s diagnosis of Stage MS Intermediate Risk Neuroblastoma. There were two tumors on her adrenal glands, multiple in her liver, and cancer was found in her bone marrow.
Piper was admitted for 12 days after diagnosis. She underwent an MRI, a CT scan and biopsies of her tumor, liver and bone marrow. She also had a CVL line implanted and underwent four cycles of chemotherapy. “Piper responded really well to those first four rounds, and we are so thankful,” Lauren says.
During her treatment, Lauren and Piper’s older siblings enjoyed the Family Room. “There is just a happy air in the Family Room,” Lauren says. “Our big kids always tell people about getting snacks in the Family Room when they visit their little sister. It brings an element of happiness and normalcy.”
Lauren appreciated the meals provided in the Family Room and being able to talk to other parents when she needed a quick break. She wants everyone to know how important the Family Room is to the families of cancer patients. “It provides a true respite,” she says.
Thank you to Lauren and her family for wanting to give back to the Family Room and making a large donation to help restock our pantry. “I had no idea the Family Room relies completely on donations,” Lauren says. “Donations are what keep the snacks available and the meals coming. Donations help bring a little brightness to families.”