Published: Aug 15, 2019
For the Somerset family, home is two hours away from the medical care that Jason, 16, and Drew, 12, need. Being far from home is a stressor that adds to two already complicated medical diagnoses.
Jason is a leukemia survivor. He fought his battle with cancer for several years, and also has a brain malformation caused by a rare genetic disorder. His younger brother Drew also shares the same brain malformation and genetic disorder. The brothers are the first siblings to be diagnosed with a concurring incidence of the disease.
The Somersets have been traveling to Wilmington for medical care for 14 years: first for Jason, and now for Drew. They live in Lewes, Delaware, and driving back and forth for frequent, usually weekly, appointments, is a burden. This is why they are thankful for the Ronald McDonald House.
For Jason, Drew, and Dad, Paul (“Pepé”), the Ronald McDonald House means so much more than being closer to the hospital and saving on transportation and lodging. It means a community of love and support.
As a family who has stayed here for many years, we share joys and heartaches with the other families. It takes you out of your own little world and into a community of love and support,” says Paul.
And yes, certainly, Jason and Drew love the “fun teenage boy stuff” at the House: the movie theater and the computers where they can play Roblox with other kids their age. But for the whole family, the overwhelming benefit of staying at the House is meeting new friends.
“My happiest memory at the House is when Lucas from Poland walked without a brace! His mom and I did the chicken dance and went to Charcoal Pit for ice cream to celebrate,” says Paul, noting they have also befriended families from around the world. The Somersets have met and connected with kids and parents from Boston, St. Kitts, Poland, Ecuador, and India. He notes that for his sons, this provides a unique experience to meet friends and experience cultures they may not otherwise have had.
As a closing thought, the Somersets told us “If we didn’t stay at the House, we would feel so isolated from every aspect of life because we would be traveling a lot more and have no money to do anything but take care of the boys.”
The family is looking forward to the future, noting that their goal is to keep the current level of excellent care that Jason and Drew are receiving at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children.
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