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On September 22, 2016, the unthinkable happened for the Edl family: their daughter Annabelle was diagnosed with cancer and needed urgent care in Vancouver. Their home in Nelson is a grueling 9-hour drive away from BC Children’s Hospital, and much to the Edls’ relief, they were able to find a home away from home at Ronald McDonald House, just steps away from the hospital.

The House became a safe place when Annabelle was immune-suppressed due to treatment, where there was always something to do and always kids to play with. “I love all the different rooms in this place,” said Annabelle. “The LEGO room, the magic room, the craft room…” “When I first saw the craft room, I was so happy!” added her 6-year-old sister Cassidy.

Annabelle enjoyed activities like Lego Robotics, Cooking for Kids, and playing with volunteers. And while Annabelle received her life-saving treatment, her sister Cassidy was always taken care of and able to thrive. “When I’m on certain drugs I don’t feel like playing, but she’s always got someone to play with,” said Annabelle.

For the Edl family, the hardest part of being in Vancouver was leaving their support network behind. “But here,” said mom Cecilia, “you get a new tribe, a new network. With some topics, I can talk to people here more than I can to my friends in Nelson.” Annabelle agreed. “I have friends here who are all in chemo. You don’t need to explain what a lumbar puncture is – you just say lumbar puncture, and they’re like, ‘OK!’”

Something as simple as a friendly, familiar face came to mean the world for the family. “It’s great having someone at the front desk to say hi to you every day, someone who understands what is going on,” said dad Stephen. “You walk in and you feel relaxed.” Annabelle also enjoyed seeing familiar faces around the House and in the kitchen: “You may not know their name but you know they’re nice.”

Now the Edls are heading home, but will be back for checkups and will always see RMH BC as their second home. “It’s somewhere we never thought we would have to walk into, or live in for 8 months,” said Cecilia, “But we’re happy.”

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