Sommah is an athletic young woman from Antigua, her island home in the middle of the Caribbean. She is the daughter of two very loving, hard-working parents, Glentist (Dad) and Nikki (Mom).
In Antigua, the family lives on a golf course. Sommah was swinging a golf club very early in life and had bested her Dad’s handicap by the age of 10. She danced in hotel entertainment shows alongside her mother throughout her childhood. PE is her favorite subject. Specifically, she digs track. Sommah was running since she knew how to walk.
Sommah’s athleticism and love of all things active made it that much harder when she got sick for prolonged periods of time. Sommah got very sick shortly after her 12th birthday.
Mom and Dad spent months with specialists in Antigua trying to unearth the root cause of all of Sommah’s health problems. Not one doctor could diagnose it correctly and Sommah just kept getting sicker and sicker.
Finally, after months of hemorrhaging, they discovered that Sommah suffered from a prolapsed uterus and she needed surgery immediately.
During surgery, the doctors took a tissue sample and sent it off to the lab for more thorough testing. The tests came back quickly. Within a week of Sommah’s successful surgery, she was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. She landed in New York City only days after the diagnosis to seek treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital (MSK Kids).
Dad and Sommah flew from Antigua to NYC together. Mom had to stay back in Antigua for her job, but eventually came to NYC to join Sommah in November 2022.
Dad Reflects on His Time in the House
Glentist did have to go home once Nikki arrived, but he said the following about his stay at Ronald McDonald House New York (RMH-NY):
“Staying at the House is an experience that we cherish because everyone here is like family. The social programs are really helpful, and I go to the support group every Friday; that is my “me time.” To me, the group session represents the saying “Let your burdens down”, because we all feel comfortable to truly share what we are going through and we are all there to support each other. Plus, there’s nobody who would understand what I’m experiencing, like another parent who’s experiencing the same thing. It feels comforting to know that we’re all in this together.”
Above, Glentist is specifically referring to a support group that the House’s Family Support team arranges weekly for caregivers and parents to come together and share their stories. Family Support runs several support groups each week. Some are specifically built for caregivers, others are for the children in treatment, and recently, they began a support group primarily focused on siblings of kids in treatment.
Dad spent the first eight months with Sommah at RMH-NY. Luckily, in the summer of 2022, the House began to open its community spaces to all residents now that Covid mandates had eased. Glentist and Sommah had the chance to experience Ronald McDonald House New York with all its social opportunities.
Glentist traveled home to Antigua in November 2022 to carry on working and supporting his family who were all still in NYC. Sommah stayed at the House and continued her treatment and therapy at MSK Kids, but now she had a new caretaker in tow.
Mom Finds a ‘Home Away From Home… with Extra Love’ at RMH-NY
Sommah’s mother, Nikki, arrived in November of 2022 and took up right where dad left off. She made friends with the staff and the volunteers. She developed relationships with other caregivers in the House and she quickly found a place in the center of the House’s social ecosystem.
Nikki and Sommah spent another four months in treatment and in residence at Ronald McDonald House New York.
Watch the video below to learn more about Nikki and Sommah’s journey from their island oasis to life in the House in NYC. In addition, learn about the relationships created at Ronald McDonald House New York that will last both a lifetime.
Spoiler Alert: There’s good news at the end!
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