In amongst the hospitals of the far Upper East Side of New York City lies a haven that transcends the ordinary—a sanctuary where families facing the profound challenges that come when dealing with a child's severe illness find solace and support.
Noelia and her daughter Luna’s story recently found its way inside this safe retreat for so many families like theirs. That safe space is Ronald McDonald House New York, a place that has become not just a temporary residence but a beacon of hope for families navigating the treacherous waters of pediatric health crises seeking life-saving treatment in NYC’s world-renowned hospitals. Most families have travelled many miles away from home to gather the care their little one needs to survive.
Noelia, a resilient and charismatic mother of three, embarked on a life-altering journey when her five-month-old daughter, Luna, was diagnosed with hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Since December 5th, Noelia, her husband, and their two older children have called Ronald McDonald House their home—a decision driven by both convenience and necessity. Luna's ongoing battle with her congenital heart defect has led her family to the comforting embrace of the House, offering more than just accommodation.
"It's just more convenient, for the family, for us to stay at Ronald McDonald House New York, which is great," Noelia explains.
A Glimpse into Normalcy: A Community of Strength
Ronald McDonald House New York has not only provided a roof over their heads but also a semblance of normalcy amid the craziness of medical treatments and surgeries. Noelia expresses her gratitude for the environment, emphasizing how it feels like a true home.
"You feel like you're at home... It feels nice... It's very warming," she shares.
The holidays brought special moments, with Noelia fondly recalling the Miracle on 73rd Street event: "I thought it was beautiful."
Unveiling Layers of Resilience: Noelia's Personal Struggles
Noelia's journey takes on an added layer of complexity as she navigates her own health struggles with rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, paralleling Luna's medical challenges. In the face of fear and uncertainty, especially during Luna's post-surgery complications, Noelia remains a pillar of hope, drawing strength from the supportive community surrounding them at Ronald McDonald House New York.
Yet, Noelia is quick to tell you that no one is as strong as her little Luna. She recalled that Luna spent almost a week after her most recent surgery with her chest cracked open to allow medical equipment to act as her heartbeat. Through so many trials in her first five months, Luna has remained a pillar that stands taller and more powerful with every moment.
"She's strong. She has made me strong. She has made the family as a whole strong," Noelia asserts.
Opening and Welcoming a New Family
During her stay at Ronald McDonald House New York, Noelia has made new connections and found a supportive community. Seeing other children who have undergone successful treatment gives her hope for her daughter.
The House has also allowed her to connect with people who are going through similar situations to her own, providing a sense of understanding and shared experience. Noelia describes the experience as one that brings light to a dark situation. She appreciates the opportunity to speak with people who have gone through similar situations, which helps her feel less alone and more hopeful.
Noelia believes that through the RMH-NY community, she has simply watched her family grow to incorporate so many others just like her with so many shared experiences. This has been a significant part of her stay at Ronald McDonald House New York.
Beyond Accommodation: Practical Support and Gratitude
The practical support provided by Ronald McDonald House proves to be invaluable to the Cruz family. Noelia emphasizes the time-saving aspect, highlighting the relief from daily chores that allows her to focus entirely on Luna, who eagerly awaits a heart transplant.
"Just the fact that I don't have to cook a meal... It saves me 3 hours out of my day because I don't have to worry about that," Noelia appreciates.
A Call to Action: Noelia's Message of Courage and Advocacy
The House has become more than a temporary residence; it's a place where families find solace and where the smallest hearts can fight the biggest battles.
Noelia's experience sparks a broader reflection on the significance of organizations like Ronald McDonald House New York. She challenges families in similar situations to speak out, emphasizing the pivotal role of awareness and support.
"How can organizations like Ronald McDonald House New York continue helping people if we, the people that are here, don't speak about this? What's happening to us," she urges.
As Luna's journey continues, her family remains enveloped in the warmth and compassion of a place that has transcended its role as a temporary residence. Ronald McDonald House New York stands testament to the power of community and the indomitable spirit of families like Noelia's, who face each day with hope, determination, and resilience.
This blog post is a tribute to the strength and resilience of Noelia, Luna, and all the families who find refuge at Ronald McDonald House New York. Their stories remind us of the profound impact that care, support, and a sense of community can have during the most challenging times.