In May 2022, we shared Casey and Andrew's inspiring story as they fought against neuroblastoma, their strength resonating through their eight-month stay at Ronald McDonald House New York. Now, with the latest updates from a recent interview and insights into their current life, we explore the continued odyssey of this remarkable duo.
Read the original article here: Meet Casey
The Continued Struggle and Triumph
Casey and Andrew's story unfolded at Ronald McDonald House New York in 2022. Facing the challenges of neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that primarily affects young children, the family's resilience became evident during their prolonged stay at the House.
Highlights: Andrew and Casey’s Progress is Evident
We recently caught up with Casey while she and Andrew were in NYC for a week of follow-up appointments and various scans. We got a moment or two with Casey to dig into the new developments in their lives since the initial article published in May.
Most importantly, the interview revealed that Andrew, now approaching a year of No Evidence of Disease (NED), is preparing to enter kindergarten.
Casey shared that they still make short trips to New York City every three months or so for scans and vaccines. Each time they come, Casey and Andrew have a room ready for them at Ronald McDonald House New York.
The family's recent stay at RMH-NY was primarily for these medical procedures. Andrew, who once required a G-tube and additional medical support, has made remarkable progress, with plans in place to remove the port and other internal hardware during their next trip in three months’ time. The positive trajectory signifies a significant step towards a more normal life for Andrew.
“As long as he continues to gain weight since he's finally at a healthy weight for his age and size without having to feed him through that anymore (pointing to the tube connected to her son as he plays farm animals beside her). He eats everything by mouth and he's taking all those meds by mouth now, so as long as he can continue that for another two months, then they'll take out the G tube then too."
---Casey speaks to Andrew’s progress and next steps
How Art and Play Promote Wellbeing for the Whole Family
During their stay at the Ronald McDonald House New York, Casey and Andrew found solace and support beyond medical necessities. Creative Caregivers, a program offering therapeutic art activities, became an integral part of Casey’s routine. Casey described how these sessions, inspired by therapy topics, provided a platform for residents to express their emotions, fostering a sense of community and understanding among caregivers.
“It's different every week. It's art, but it's led by therapy in a way. At one point, we drew a bridge and more like underneath of the bridge. We drew inanimate things that represented life things we were trying to overcome. On the other side of the bridge were goals we were trying to get to. Then, people kind of took it in different ways from there. Some people would write about that topic, some people draw about it, some people paint, but everyone creates their own art. It’s a project inspired by a therapy topic and then we all talk about it while we're making the art. It opens the conversation a little bit and allows each person to tell the group where they are at in that moment.”
--Casey on art therapy at RMH-NY
Andrew, known for his love of farm animals, particularly enjoyed the playroom's climbing tower. His affinity for Ronald McDonald House New York extended beyond the physical space – the familiarity with the hallways, the quiet approach by staff members who understood his sound sensitivity, and the supportive environment contributed to his sense of comfort.
Challenges Beyond the House
Casey highlighted the difference in Andrew's well-being when they had to stay in a hotel due to the House being full. The unfamiliar environment triggered anxiety, impacting Andrew's ability to eat and drink, eventually leading to a hypoglycemic episode. Recognizing the vital role Ronald McDonald House New York played in Andrew's comfort, overall healing, and wellbeing, Casey worked with staff to secure a spot, emphasizing the necessity of the House for families like hers.
Support Beyond Boundaries
"I definitely feel more supported because a lot of my friends from home don't know what it's like, or even the medical terminology... It really gives you that bond of being able to know that you both have fought for your kid. It’s a unique bond."
--Casey on the invaluable community created at RMH-NY
Beyond the medical challenges, Casey emphasized the importance of the supportive community formed through programs like Creative Caregivers. The camaraderie among parents and caregivers who understood the unique struggles of caring for a child with cancer provided an invaluable network of friends. These relationships, forged through shared experiences, extended beyond their stay at the Ronald McDonald House, as Casey continues to stay in touch with those who have returned home.
A Brighter Future
Casey and Andrew's time at Ronald McDonald House New York, marked by challenges and triumphs, exemplifies the resilience and strength found within these walls. Their story continues to inspire, showcasing the profound impact of community, support, and therapeutic programs on families facing pediatric cancer and other serious, sometimes life-threatening illnesses.
As Andrew prepares for kindergarten and plans move forward to remove all the medical hardware from his body the next time they see the doctor, it seems the future holds remarkable amounts of hope and healing for this remarkable family.
Give hope to other kids just like Andrew.