One summer Saturday, five-year old Kaelyn Chrapczynski came home from a birthday party with bruises on her legs. She hadn’t been injured, yet the bruises grew. Her parents, Jeff and Jill, took her to urgent care, and then to the hospital. “They told us to pack a bag for ourselves—we might be there a while,” remembers Jeff. “We stayed overnight at the hospital with Kaelyn. That Monday, she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was devastating.”
Fortunately, Kaeyln’s leukemia could be treated. However, it would require a six month hospitalization and would completely transform their lives. Commuting from their home in Temecula simply wasn’t an option when Kaelyn needed them so urgently. Still in shock, Jeff and Jill moved to the Ronald McDonald House with their 20-month old daughter, Emma, joining them.
The Ronald McDonald House has been our savior. I’m not sure what we would do without it. – Jeff Chrapczynski
The Ronald McDonald House gives Kaelyn’s family a “home away from home” just moments from her hospital bed. Her parents can take turns caring for Kaelyn and keeping life as normal as possible for little Emma—while getting the rest they need.
Jeff uses an unusual word to describe his daughter.
Kaeyln is fierce. We have to argue with her to take her medicine. But it’s that same fierceness that has her body fighting the cancer.
On her many good days, Kaelyn takes guitar lessons, gets tutoring, and plays with her sister. In fact, her body has responded so well that she’s been able to go home for three week-long vacations from the hospital between rounds of chemotherapy.
A Home for Healing
When Kaelyn is scared and hurting, she wants her mom with her round the clock. Even now, Jill rarely leaves her side. But the Ronald McDonald House gives Jill a place to shower and have meals so she can get back to Kaelyn. Grandpa Keith cares for Emma at the Ronald McDonald House during the day. It gives Emma a place to take her naps and play like any other toddler—and be close enough to see her big sister for several hours a day, when Kaelyn’s treatments allow. Grandpa’s help has let Jeff meet with Kaelyn’s doctors and keep up with his work as a sales representative for a local flooring manufacturer.
Jeff shares a piece of advice that helps him: “’When it feels like you’re near the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on some more.’ I know other families are going through the same struggles. We’re in it together. The Ronald McDonald House helps us hang on to that rope.”
“There’s so much good in the world…”
Jeff is a remarkably positive person, more so than before Kaelyn’s illness, he says. “There’s so much good in the world. Being at the Ronald McDonald House brings you to a better reality. It helps you walk back to the hospital with a smile on your face. And that helps Kaelyn get healthy.”
Kaelyn is on schedule to finish her treatment in December. Get ready, Temecula, for the return of a lively girl who is not afraid to fight! May Kaelyn’s battles be only pretend ones on the playground from then on.