Madison Waller – A Mother’s Story

Published on June 15, 2011

Almost (four) years ago, our beautiful, 5 year-old daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with leukemia. The news hit us like a bomb, but, fortunately, we were sent to UCSF Children’s Hospital from our home town of Redding, California–a good 4 hour drive away. Today, the prognosis for Madison is very good– she’s in remission and returns to UCSF periodically for check-ups.
I want everyone to know how important Family House has been to us throughout treatment. Frankly, I don;t know what we would’ve done without it. They were a light in our darkest hour–they were there, ready to be a home for us, even though we didn’t know what we’d need. We feel lucky to be part of the Family House community.
Family house is the only reason that Madison had anything to open on Christmas three years ago. She was released on Christmas Eve morning after being in-patient for 48 days. My husband and I could not have cared less about Christmas, let alone gifts or a tree. Paul Goold, the Family House Director of Operations, called me at the hospital the morning we were discharged to tell me that there was a big box of wrapped Christmas gifts for Madi and her stepbrothers to take home with us. it was simply unbelievable, and meant everything to our children and to us.
I hope that those of you who donate to Family House know that the families on the receiving end are real people. A sudden, life-changing diagnosis can happen to anyone at any time, and you’re never prepared. When you find yourself on the receiving end of the services Family House provides–an instant community of support, a free and safe place to live, foor and friendship–you don’t know howyou get so lucky, because your lives were turned upside down before you know it. For two years, our family struggled with all sorts of basic costs to get back and forth to the hospital–during her treatment we spent $32,000 in gas, tolls, parking and minimal food purchases to get back and forth to San Francisco. It just about put us over the edge. we never thought something like this would happen to us or our beautiful girl.
There are still families that sleep in the corridors of the hospital, in a chair, on a window ledge, or in my case, in my daughter’s hospital bed with her curled up next to me. It saddens me that Family House has to turn people away because there aren’t enough rooms. I hope that can change.
You can’t imagine what a family is going through when they have to be in the hospital 24 hours per day–you ask yourself how many kids are at home with another family member; how the bills are going to be paid; can the family afford food while their child is in-patient for months; or has their house been repossess because they cannot keep up with the mortgage along with everything else. (Full story:
Today, we no longer take every minute for granted. I will never lose sight of what every family that walks through the doors of 7 Long (pediatric oncology floor) are going to endure. I know exactly what they are feeling and I want to help them by supporting Family House.

-Elizabeth Wallers, Mother of a Child at Family House