Valeria, in glasses, with big brother Armando Jr., mom Veronica, sister Viviana, and dad Armando Sr.
Valeria is an old soul, according to her mother, Veronica Raymundo. At six years old, Valeria seemed wise beyond her years, with a calm and loving presence. She rarely complained. But Veronica and her husband, Armando, knew something was wrong when their daughter had a fever that just wouldn’t stay down.
Valeria was diagnosed with multiple lineage leukemia, a particularly aggressive form of cancer. It had spread through 96 percent of the cells in her body.
Staying close to support Valeria in the fight of her life
The year that followed brought intense emotions of fear and hope. Work, school, sports—these daily routines no longer applied when Valeria had to fight for her life.
During the first overwhelming nights, the Raymundos slept in their car near the hospital rather than risk being away from their daughter for the drive to their San Marcos home.
Then, a room became available at the Ronald McDonald House. It was a clean, quiet, and comfortable refuge for the next 150 days and nights where they could rest, cry, and find new hope and strength to respond to whatever the next day would bring. What’s more, it was a place they could be together as a family.
The Raymundo’s teenage son, Armando, Jr., and youngest daughter, Viviana, stayed with them at the Ronald McDonald House. The parents took turns at the hospital and at the House with their other children.
I remember holding Valeria at the window so she could wave to her dad and brother and sister as they crossed the street for supper at the Ronald McDonald House. It was so reassuring for her to see how close they were!
Thanks to the Ronald McDonald House, the Raymundo family didn’t have to leave the area for the meals they needed. And Armando and Veronica didn’t need to worry about how to manage several months of meals away from home.
Five months after her initial diagnosis, Valeria received a bone marrow transplant from a young lady in Poland. Now nine years old, Valeria continues to fight every day to have a “normal” life. She’s in school again and loves playing with her siblings and dog, Cookie. She is glad to be home in her own bed.
Giving back as a family
The Raymundos haven’t forgotten the care they experienced. They’re regular participants in Red Shoe Day, and for four years so far, they’ve hosted a meal for Ronald McDonald House families on Christmas Day. Valeria run the craft table with her sister Viviana, while big brother Armando Jr. cooks and serves with his parents and other friends and family.
Armando Sr. looks back on their experience:
Material things don’t matter so much to us anymore. We’re grateful to have each other. We’re glad to give back.