Each time a guest stays at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, they embark on a journey away from their family, friends, and home. What we hope they find when they come to the Ronald McDonald House is a sense of hope, support, and a place where they can call home as they focus on rest and recovery. For Sarah Mann, who began staying at the Ronald McDonald House as a teen, and her husband Michael, their experience at the House has been just that as Sarah continues her battle against cancer. We’ve asked Sarah to share her story of survival with us in hopes that it helps inspires others. Below is Sarah’s story.
Illness is something not usually in the forefront of anyone’s mind. However, this world has taught us that anything can happen to anyone at any time. I have learned this lesson all too well, being in and out of hospitals for more than half of my life. After battling renal failure and two different types of cancer as a teenager, I was disease free for 8 years. Unfortunately, one of my cancers returned in 2015 – Ewing’s Sarcoma. Treatment and surgery put me into remission, but that, too, was short lived.
The disease returned in 2016. It was at this point that I made contact with a Ewing’s Sarcoma specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Several trips were made between Illinois and Cleveland for many months, attempting new treatments to keep the cancer at bay, even having my left lung removed in October 2016. Unfortunately, more bad news came this past June when the cancer returned. The scan from June showed three tumors, one pressing upon the heart, causing my right lung to accumulate with fluid. My husband and I went to Cleveland expecting a simple procedure to drain the fluid. Far from simple, the procedure caused my heart to stop three times while on the operating table. It was during this time that we knew we would be in Cleveland for a long period of time. Radiation would begin soon, and then I would start another regimen of chemotherapy.
My husband and parents had just spent a week in a hotel, which had not been cheap. We had been informed about the Ronald McDonald House during a previous visit and decided to give them a call. I was accepted, and my family was given a room where they were able to rest and relax while caring for me. I was discharged from the hospital on June 30 and came to the Ronald McDonald House to join my husband. Radiation would begin soon. Until then, we would wait.
But our waiting was enjoyable. We have met many families going through a variety of medical issues, each having their unique story. We are grateful to the House because it has allowed us to focus more on me getting healthy and getting rid of this cancer once and for all. We haven’t had to worry about finances, meals, transportation – getting better is the only goal at the Ronald McDonald House. When our 2-year-old daughter came to visit us, we were grateful for the beautiful gardens and the extensive playground that she so enjoyed while she was here. It was a beautiful moment, just being able to be together. That’s what the Ronald McDonald House is. It is full of beautiful moments, moments that families might not have gotten if they had been anywhere else. It is all about family here.
Sarah writes a blog documenting her and her family’s journey. To read more about Sarah, visit www.smilingwithsarah.com.