After her daughter’s cancer diagnosis, Ekaterina found comfort and support during the holidays when her family needed it most.

In the fall of 2021, six-year-old Emiliya was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and was rushed to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) to receive life-saving treatment with her mom, Ekaterina, by her side.

Ekaterina was told that Emiliya would need chemotherapy treatment, and was advised to stay in Toronto to be close to her daughter’s doctors and the hospital.

Driving back and forth from the family’s home in Orillia, Ont., was not a viable option. Ekaterina worried about how she would be able to afford to live in the city while her daughter received the care she so urgently needed.

In October, Ekaterina was relieved when she found out that she, along with her partner, Alexey, and daughter, Eva, were able to stay at RMHC Toronto with Emiliya.

“I was shocked that a place like this existed. I wasn’t expecting the support our family got from everyone at RMHC Toronto,” says Ekaterina. “It made our experience during such a hard time so much easier.”

As the holidays drew closer, the family realized they would be in Toronto for Christmas. Ekaterina wanted to make sure the holidays were extra-special for the whole family now that they would be away from home.

When Santa came to the House, Emiliya and her sister were very excited to see him, even if COVID-19 protocols kept them socially distanced.

“Having Santa visit the House was amazing,” says Ekaterina. “Our whole family loved seeing him in the Coca-Cola truck and the girls couldn’t wait to find out what Santa had brought them on Christmas morning.”

“When your child is diagnosed with cancer, you can’t think right,” says Ekaterina. “There’s so much stress when information is shared at the hospital. RMHC Toronto is a breath of fresh air. The staff and volunteers help you and guide you through such a difficult time in your life. Staying at RMHC Toronto means the world to us.”

This holiday season, you can support families at RMHC Toronto with the Gift of Nights. Every donation of $183 supports one family for one night. To make a gift, visit