November 15, 2017
"Every day we look at each other and say, 'Can you believe how lucky we are?'"
This isn’t the type of sentiment you’d expect to hear from Britt and Kelley Dougherty right now. Their five-month-old son, Beckett, is in the midst of chemotherapy treatment for infant leukemia (ALL) and they’ve been living 3,000 km from home for the last three months. Even still, they’re feeling intense gratitude for finding a bright light during a dark time: Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto.
“This place is unbelievable,” says Britt. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we have to do without it.”
The Doughertys arrived at the House on Sept. 5, exhausted after a whirlwind week. Just days prior, Kelley had taken baby Beckett to their family doctor to examine a rash, only to leave hours later with a leukemia diagnosis.
“It was traumatic,” she says. “He was a normal, eating, cooing baby, so him being sick wasn’t even on our radar.”
Beckett was rushed to a hospital in Saskatoon, three hours from their home in Swift Current, Sask. His parents “tore our house apart, dumping stuff into suitcases,” and they haven’t been home since.
When it was decided that Beckett would be transferred to SickKids in Toronto for treatment, Britt and Kelley were relieved to get a room at RMHC Toronto. It meant they wouldn’t have to stress about their basic necessities and could focus on Beckett. He underwent 59 days of very intense inpatient chemotherapy, so he really needed his parents by his side. Though the chemo took a toll on Beckett’s body and spirit, it was effective. He is now considered to be in remission.
Beckett still requires two more rounds of intense chemo, which will start in December. But for the past few weeks, he has been able to live at RMHC Toronto with his parents, and they’ve really been enjoying each other’s company.
“At the House, he laughs all day long,” says Britt. “The three of us can sleep together and play together. We’re really trying to enjoy him while we can before the next chemo cycle.”
The next cycle will be difficult. It will last for three months, so Beckett’s first Christmas will be spent in the hospital. His parents are looking at the positives of their situation, living for “little wins.” Their home at RMHC Toronto is one of them.
“This is as close to home as we can get right now. It wouldn’t be like this in a hotel,” says Britt. “We get to be together here, and even when Beckett is in the hospital, it gives us a home base. For the rest of our lives, we will try to give back to RMHC Toronto for all it has done for us.”
“It’s literally helped us save our son’s life.”