Meet the Raj Family

From Abbotsford, BC

When 8-year-old Vian was diagnosed with Lymphoma, his family didn’t know what to expect at RMH BC. More than just a place to stay, the House became a place that supported Vian’s healing and helped his parents through the financial and emotional burdens they faced. Read their story below, in their own words:

My name is Neha and I recently stayed at Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon with my 8-year-old son Vian and my husband Amit for almost 8 months.

In early 2023, we were very worried about Vian’s health. He kept coming down with fevers, and doctors told us it was likely caused by viruses going around at school. Finally, we went to the emergency room at BC Children’s Hospital, where we found out that Vian had Lymphoma.

We felt lost – our lives fell apart. We had recently immigrated to Canada, and we didn’t know about the resources that were available to us. When we found out that there was a place to stay at RMH BC, it was a great relief.

At first, we were simply grateful to have a place close to the hospital where we could take a shower or sleep. But as soon as Vian was able to leave the hospital and all three of us could stay together, that’s when we really understood what it meant to stay at RMH BC. All of the programs, like Medical Play and Music Therapy kept him busy, which was a big part of his recovery. Because he was happy, because he was playful, the chemo and other therapies didn’t bother him as much.

All three of us enjoyed taking part in Art Therapy. Whenever we felt distressed, we would go to the art room and sit and make something together. We would make sure to go to all the workshops; it was fun to see people creating things, while talking together. When you walk by the Art Room, all you can hear is fun and laughter!

Christmas and all the holidays were amazing as well! RMH BC is very inclusive, and celebrating all the festivals (including Diwali) really shows everyone that they are important during their stay.

The House also takes care of the day-to-day stresses that caregivers go through. One of the main things that helped to make our burden easier was access to the kitchens, Pantry Program and Family Meals.
Being able to cook at the House gave us back some control over our lives. When everything feels like chaos, and you don’t get to decide how long treatment takes or when you can go home – at least you can decide what you want to eat.

RMH BC & Yukon has really taken care of families so they can cook by themselves, providing refrigerators and even groceries through the Save-On-Foods Pantry Program. We were not in a position every day to go out and buy groceries – but they were already there at RMH BC! At any time, coming home late from the hospital, we could cook a healthy meal.

We also bonded with other families while cooking and eating. Whenever I was cooking, somebody would stop by to say hello, and ask what I was making – it’s a conversation starter! When everyone is running around to appointments, there is no time to stop and talk. But when people are cooking, this is the time when they come together at the House, and share how their day went, good or bad. We shared a few meals with our friends and traded some of our favourite recipes.

During the summer, there were so many fresh vegetables from the garden. Collecting fresh produce was therapy in itself – and the kids loved going berry picking!

I can’t express in words all of the good things that RMH BC & Yukon does for the community, and the stability it provides for families going through the most difficult time of their lives. In the House there is so much joy, and so many things on a daily basis that makes families and caregivers feel secure. One day, we would love to volunteer!