A Family House Story: How Jocelyn Dominguez Overcame Neuroblastoma
Published on June 6, 2022
Right after her 1st birthday, Jocelyn was diagnosed with stage 4, high-risk neuroblastoma. When we found the giant 7×7 cm tumor in her chest, it was wrapped around major arteries and nerves and dangerously close to her spinal cord.
We were faced with the decision to start treatment near our home in Sacramento or go to one of the world’s top children’s hospitals, which was over 2 hours away. Ultimately, the logistics of it didn’t matter, and off to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital we went to save her life.
We also had an older son to take care of, so we found a routine that allowed us to switch every few days so Jocelyn would always have a fresh parent. Every weekend, we tried to bring our son down so we could all be together as a family. It was during these moments that we found out about Family House.
The last thing we were concerned with was our own well-being, whether it be food, a hot shower, or sleep. But when we were brought over to Family House and had all of that and more, we felt recharged for this marathon fight like nothing else could have provided. The staff were so welcoming and had this unspoken warmth as if they knew all about the exhaustion and emotional drain our bodies had been through.
After sleeping in the hospital for days on end, it wasn’t lost on me that I finally had a private and quiet space to rest — no beeping machines or nurses walking in every hour. I found a refrigerator stocked with food and a warm breakfast already prepared and ready to eat when I woke up. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It felt like they thought of all the things I wasn’t thinking of that I needed to take care of with myself. And I walked back to the hospital happy and hopeful to take on another day.
When Jocelyn was able to leave the hospital but needed to stay close by for daily treatment, Family House was a blessing. Instead of worrying about spending thousands on hotels to be close to the hospital, we had a space to call home, a kitchen with food, toys for everyone to play with, and incredible volunteers who cooked meals for us, chatted with us and played with our children. It felt like a glimpse of normal life again where we weren’t thinking about the hospital for a moment.
Jocelyn loved running in the halls there and playing with the other kids going through the same thing. Family House hosted several special events to keep the kids and families happy. There were bounce house birthday parties, music parties, arts and crafts, cookie making, movie nights, and a celebration for every possible holiday, so you never felt like you were missing out. They literally thought of it all, and we felt so special and loved. This place was joyous; it was comfortable, clean and welcoming, and nothing short of “home.”
Jocelyn just celebrated three years since the completion of her treatment and is a wild and joyous 5-year-old finishing her first year of kindergarten. She enters the next phase of her journey at UCSF, which is joining the Survivor’s Clinic—a miracle milestone we never knew we would reach.
We continue to rely on Family House for our routine scans and appointments every few months, and Jocelyn squeals with delight when she knows we are going to be staying there. To continue our outstanding care at UCSF and not have to worry about where to stay or the logistics of it all is such an unbelievable blessing.
We absolutely LOVE Family House, and they will be part of our family forever.
Family House San Francisco is an independent non-profit organization led by a professional staff and board of directors dedicated to providing residential services free of charge to qualifying families. Since we receive no financial support from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital or any other public entity, we rely solely on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, and foundations.