7-year-old Olivia Lassam remembers getting “really sick” on her baby brother’s first birthday. Her parents John and Morgan took her to the emergency room just in case – and that’s when doctors found a mass in her brain. The next day, John, Morgan, and Olivia found themselves in Vancouver living out of a hospital room.
After surgery to remove the tumour, Olivia experienced complications and needed months of rehabilitation to walk, speak, and eat again. Preparing for a long stay, the Lassam family reunited at Ronald McDonald House, with Olivia’s brothers Lucas (5) and Kai (12 months) joining them.
While the Lassam family rallied around Olivia, RMH BC helped to take care of them through programs such as Family Meals. “Food is a great thing!” says John. “You don’t want to get to the end of the day and realize that you still need to cook for the kids.” Both parents also took comfort from the front desk staff, volunteers and other families. “We made a lot of friends here who we hope to keep in touch with,” says John. “Everyone is in a similar boat, so it’s nice to talk – even if it’s just small talk.”
The House gave 5-year-old Lucas space to play with other kids, take part in activities, and let off some steam after visiting his sister in the hospital. “Art therapy has been a major part of Lucas’ life,” says John, laughing as he remembers trying to find space in their room for all his projects.
Staff at RMH BC also encouraged the family to apply for the WestJet Cares for Kids Gift of Flight program, an initiative that helps reunite families separated by illness. Thanks to WestJet flights, John’s family from England was able to come to support the family during their most stressful times.
During their stay at RMH BC, the Lassam family celebrated many milestones. Lucas celebrated his birthday here with the help of his many new friends. Kai, now 15 months old, learned to walk at RMH BC. When Olivia was able to move into the House, she immediately joined her brothers (with help from a wheelchair) to explore and go on adventures.
Happily, after almost 5 months the Lassams were recently able to go home. The first thing John planned to do when he got home? “We live by the beach, so I just want to sit on the front step with a coffee and look at the view. And of course, sleep in our own beds. And see the dog!” This September, Olivia is looking forward to a new school year with all her classmates.
Thanks to you, kids like Olivia and their families can stay together. Donate today and keep a family like the Lassams close.