Murrieta high-schooler Kayla Brown (pictured above next to her dad) is a natural role model and trailblazer for her four younger sisters. She makes the most of life with school, sports, church, and travel. But last year, this strong sister faced an unwanted adversary: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
It was devastating. Kayla’s treatment began right away with six weeks at Rady Children’s Hospital, more than an hour from home.
In spite of their own tremendous anxiety about their daughter’s diagnosis, parents Tanysha and Russell Brown knew it was vital to help Kayla stay positive. “Learning of Kayla’s condition was a life changing experience,” says Tanysha. “We cried a lot. We wondered if something we’d done had caused it. Eventually, we realized that as a family, we needed to embrace it and be strong for each other.”
Finding relief in a safe and loving environment
The Ronald McDonald House helped the Browns stay strong for Kayla. According to Tanysha, it was an incredible relief to be able to sleep and take care of basic needs just a short walk from the hospital, rather than wasting precious hours in an exhausting commute. “The Ronald McDonald House provides a very safe and loving environment for families,” says Tanysha.
From the greeting at the front door to the smiles in the hallways, it all means so much.
Russell and Tanysha were thankful for the staff and volunteers who went out of their way to make sure they felt at home. The girls took part in summer camp activities, and the family enjoyed meals together and laughs in the game room. They valued the interfaith reflection room as a peaceful space for prayer and quiet thought.
After the first six weeks as an inpatient, Kayla returned for a day or two every other week for chemotherapy. She and her mom would stay at the House for these shorter stays while her dad held down the fort back at work and home. Kayla’s now down to even less frequent maintenance treatments.
Kayla misses her volleyball tournaments— she can’t play due to her chemotherapy port, and treatments reduce her energy and get in the way of teenage life. But she’s still her determined, outgoing, and kind self. She’s moving forward and facing her challenges with the best cheerleading squad she could have—her family, right at her side when it matters most.