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The Terry Family

For 13-year-old Sophia, the Ronald McDonald House where she and her mom, Yuri, have stayed throughout her cancer treatment feels like a second home. Following her diagnosis a few years ago, Sophia and her mom traveled more than 300 miles away from their home for the chemo she needed.

“I was scared. I didn’t want to be away from [my cat] Jinx, my friends, my normal life,” Sophia explained. To her surprise, there were other children staying at the House also receiving treatment at the hospital. “I wasn’t the only person without hair. I attended school at the House, and the teachers let me wear my hat in class so that I’d feel more comfortable. I made a few new friends.”

Sophia and Yuri found a community of support in other families going through similar situations— people that understood what they were going through and helped Sophia to feel like any other 13-year-old.

In October 2020, Sophia’s cancer came back, and she and her mom both returned to Toronto for the care she needed.

“It might be surprising for some people to hear me say this, but I didn’t feel stressed or worried about this. I’ve been here before and I know what to expect this time,” said Sophia. Although things were a bit different staying at the House during a global pandemic, there were still many virtual activities for her to participate in and plenty of snacks for her cravings.

“If RMHC Toronto didn’t exist, my mom and I would have to stay in a hotel so we could be close to the hospital. My parents say we couldn’t afford it. I can’t imagine my mom and I trying to live in a hotel around other people who don’t understand what we are going through. In years to come, I want to come back and visit the House just to say ‘hi’ to the staff. And just like I do now, I’ll be walking into a place that feels like home.”