- The Willis Family Story
Over the course of several months, Cheyenne's parents, Demetris and Stacy Moses, noticed their daughter was rapidly losing weight, appeared lethargic, and eventually stopped speaking and eating. "Her spirit was gone...her personality was gone," says her father. Worried about the well-being of their daughter, Cheyenne's parents took her to their local hospital to seek medical advice. It was discovered that Cheyenne's blood sugar levels were dangerously low, so low in fact, that she was rushed to the Children's National Hospital in Washington D.C., where doctors performed a CT scan and discovered a large mass on her pituitary gland, known as a germinoma. This type of tumor commonly affects young patients, 90% of which are younger than 20 at the time of their diagnosis.
After months of uncertainty, Cheyenne and her family finally had an answer to their medical mystery and worked with doctors to implement an aggressive treatment plan. Cheyenne underwent a biopsy and it was determined that doctors could treat her condition with chemotherapy in order to avoid invasive surgery and permanent nerve damage. One week post biopsy, Cheyenne started chemotherapy and immediately began to experience the difficult side effects of treatment. After several bouts of diabetes insipidus, difficulty eating, and loss of energy, Cheyenne was able to return home and be with her family.
One week after returning home, Cheyenne's health worsened and she was rushed back to the hospital, where doctors discovered that her white blood cell count was extremely low. After another week of treatment, she was able to return home once again. On June 15, 2014, Cheyenne celebrated the end of her chemotherapy treatment and on June 24, 2014, accompanied by her mother, Cheyenne began radiation at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and came to stay at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House on Chestnut Street. "CHOP explained the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House to us as a resort for kids," says Stacy. "In person the House is amazing and you don't miss your home as much because you feel like you're home when you're at the Ronald McDonald House."
As Cheyenne undergoes radiation, the House provides a place of solace for both her and her parents as they take the final step towards complete recovery. The Moses family has greatly benefited from the daily interaction they have with the other families staying at the House, staff, and volunteers. The activities provided for families to enjoy such as meals, arts and crafts, and Cheyenne's personal favorite- visits from the therapy dogs, serve as much-needed diversion from everyday stressors. "The House keeps your mind off of what's really going on," says Cheyenne's father. "It's our home away from home, and it's great for Cheyenne because she doesn't have to worry. It relieves us as parents because we don't have to worry about our child when she's here."
From transportation, to nutritious home-cooked meals, to friendship, and assistance navigating the often difficult world of healthcare, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House takes great pride in ensuring that every family has the support they need to see their loved ones through their toughest days. Cheyenne is on the fast track to recovery and as her family expressed, it is due in large part to the support they have received during their stay at the House. "The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House is something for Cheyenne to look forward to every day. The environment has helped her a lot on this journey," her parents say.
On November 27th, Cheyenne will celebrate her tenth birthday, exactly two months after her last radiation treatment. This birthday is a milestone that both her and her family looks forward to as it signifies a new beginning. The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House congratulates Cheyenne on her "new beginning" as she returns to her hometown; but as her mother explains with a voice full of gratitude, "while you're here, the Ronald McDonald house will take care of you...and that's just what you need."
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