Blake and Stephanie Booth are young pastors and parents to three active children who love reading and telling stories together. They were stunned when their oldest child, Emma Joy, was diagnosed with cancer at five years old. Emma needed immediate hospitalization, and she needed her parents at her side.
Blake and Stephanie had nothing with them and no plans for staying overnight, let alone for an extended time away from home. A hospital social worker helped arrange for them to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
A Private Refuge
Stephanie recalls what her first night at the House meant to her, after having spent nights at Emma’s side in the hospital.
I just lost it. I cried and prayed. I could finally pour my heart out in a safe place and begin to process what was happening.
This private refuge helped Stephanie find new peace and strength to go back to the hospital and be the positive, comforting presence her daughter needed.
“We couldn’t have afforded a hotel, even if we wanted it,” says Blake. “I was so thankful for a shower, a toothbrush – all the little things to help us meet our basic needs.” It made life easier amid the chaos.
The Booths didn’t have to worry about where to stay or how to take care of their younger children. They could stay together at the House. The kids especially loved the play areas, and there was always something they could do. The parents felt the care and camaraderie that develops among families at the House.
We were all going through pain, change and difficulty, but we were all there together.
Growing Stronger Together
Emma Joy is in remission and has been able to go home between treatments. She will continue chemotherapy through September 2021. At times, she’s stayed at the Ronald McDonald House and taken great advantage of the craft table and play yard. She even got a special volunteer-made princess wig at the House from the Magic Yarn Project.
The Booths have grown stronger as a family through Emma Joy’s journey, and their hearts and compassion for others has grown from their experience. As Stephanie says,
In the midst of the darkness, there is always light. The Ronald McDonald House is an example of that. Thank you, Ronald McDonald House!