A Family #MyWhy

By: The Cox Family — Jared, Camy, Lauren, Jason & Joshua 

In May of 2006, our oldest son, who was then 2 1/2 years old, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was being treated for an eye condition at the time and it was his eye doctor, Dr. Don Bremer, who discovered there was swelling in his brain. Dr. Bremer referred us to Dr. Ed Kosnik, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s, and almost immediately, Dr. Kosnik had our son admitted to the hospital.  Surgery was scheduled for a few days later.

We were overwhelmed, to say the least. Our extended family all live out of state and our daughter was 4 years old at the time. We felt we needed to be together as a family during this time but didn’t know how that would work with our young daughter, commuting back and forth from Marysville, and needing to be with our son in the hospital.

One of the nurses in the Neruo department told us we might qualify for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, so we applied and that very same day, we were approved to come stay. Upon check-in, our little daughter was invited to choose a donated homemade fleece blanket for herself and to choose one for her brother in the hospital. She was so excited!  We still have these blankets some wonderful volunteer made!

Staying there provided a lot of calm for us in the middle of uncertainty and hard days and nights at the hospital. It enabled my husband and I to trade off sleeping nights at the hospital with our son and sleeping at RMHC with our daughter. We were able to be together as a family; our daughter could play at the House and outside with one of us which gave all of us a little bit of stability during that time. I remember after a particularly long day, it was my turn to stay the night at RMHC with our daughter, and we just snuggled up in one of the small TV rooms and watched TV.  Those few hours just sitting on the couch in a room that looked like a living room watching TV helped me relax and feel sort of normal for a few hours.

Our son’s recovery post-surgery was difficult. He couldn’t take medication orally and couldn’t eat. Even favorite foods we suggested to him, he had no interest in. It was Memorial Day and Dr. Kosnik gave us permission to take him out of the hospital in the wheelchair with his IV and bring him across the street to the House for a family picnic outside. One of many volunteer groups had come in that day and made dinner; I don’t remember what the meal was, but homemade cornbread was there, it smelled amazing, and we took a piece outside for our son. He actually showed interest in eating it and ate several pieces! He even showed interest in wanting to play in one of the playrooms, and we felt like a normal family again for a little while. Things went well after that and eventually the time came for us to leave. It was bittersweet for us — we were thrilled to be going home, but we were taking some very precious memories with us. We are grateful to the staff at RMH for providing us with an opportunity to be close to our son and to be together as a family! Our son is now 13 years old, almost 14, and he is healthy!

Over the years since that time, we have volunteered at the house as our schedule has permitted. We know what it’s like to be there and how it feels to be a parent there when your child is at the hospital. We want to bring a little bit of cheer to those who are there, because we know there’s often long days and long nights and a lot of uncertainty. We want to give back, to express our gratitude to those volunteers we never met who made the blankets for our kids, who made dinners every evening and the ones who greeted us every day with a smile. Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who help make this a wonderful substitute home!