Childhood Cancer Awareness Month at RMH-NY - Piper's Story
The Current State of Childhood Cancer***
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, every three minutes a family comes to grips with the very sobering new reality that their child is the one in every 285 kids in the U.S. who has received a cancer diagnosis. To this day, cancer remains the number one cause of death by disease for children in America. Even more worrying than that, children with cancer in low-income situations/countries can be up to ten times more likely to not survive.
That is where Ronald McDonald House New York strives to make our biggest impact as we grow our mission. We aim to help families across New York City arm themselves with the same healthcare tools needed for their child to have the best possible chance of beating cancer.
The Good News
Twenty years ago, 80% of all children diagnosed with cancer did not survive. Today, due to years of medical research and the rise of organizations solely built to prioritize children’s social determinants of health like Ronald McDonald House New York, 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will fight and win their battle with the disease.
Ronald McDonald House Charities opened its doors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1974. Yes, our parent organization turns fifty next year and Ronald McDonald House New York will turn 45 years old in 2024.
In 1974, Jim Murray, general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, was raising funds for one of his players' (Fred Hill) daughters when he met Children's Hospital of Philadelphia oncologist Audrey Evans. Along with a sizable grant and assistance from their marketing firm, Elkman Advertising, McDonald’s, Murray, and Evans built the first Ronald McDonald House to house families with children battling cancer.
Today, over 380 Houses in 64 countries have been built with the same mission in mind: to House families close to special care hospitals that are designed to help kids become cancer-free. These Houses provide a comfortable, affordable, and home-like environment for families who have to travel to get the medical care their children need. They also provide additional services such as meals, laundry, transportation, and emotional and spiritual support.
Ronald McDonald House New York
RMH-NY opened its doors five years after the original in Philadelphia. As an organization, we have supported over 59,000 kids in the last 45 years.
RMH-NY also promotes 22 local hospital partnerships that allow us to mobilize our mission through Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and Hospitality Cart placements. RMH-NY's programs-to-go also originate in the House but are sent to kids in all our partner hospitals across the five boroughs to brighten their days and put smiles on all their faces while they undergo treatment.
Childhood Cancer and RMH-NY
While we have expanded our reach to support families of kids with all sorts of life-threatening, complex medical issues, Ronald McDonald House New York will always care for children with cancer which has served as our largest demographic of patients over the last 44 years.
Piper has Neuroblastoma.
Piper, featured in the video above, is a House resident alongside mother Kimberly, father Garrett, and her sisters Madison and Peyton (her twin). Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK Kids) is overseeing Piper’s treatment. They moved into the Ronald McDonald House New York in August of 2022 and stay about one week out of each month. Piper has been through the main parts of the protocol at MSK Kids and is currently in the vaccine treatment phase.
Garrett, Piper’s Dad, said that “…kid’s cancer is not the type of thing that you think about until YOU go through it. Luckily for us, so many people were selfless. They set us up at places like Ronald McDonald (House New York). They made it possible for our kid to fight…”
“…and made it possible for our family to stay together.” Kimberly, Piper’s mom finished her husband’s sentence.
Keeping Families Close
Our mission at RMH-NY has always been to focus on doing what we can to create an environment in our East 73rd Street House that is inclusive of every member of each family.
The members of the RMH-NY organization, from the top down, all understand that so much of a kid’s battle with cancer depends on the social support that they receive while in treatment.
For RMH-NY, that social support is addressed in so many ways including a comfortable room to sleep in at night, a healthy meal available to them three times a day every day, transportation to and from their doctor’s appointments and hospital visits, and a playroom with activities to allow them to be kids first and patients second.
However, the single most important factor that can play the most important role in the effectiveness of their cancer treatment is close proximity to their family. At RMH-NY, families are encouraged, if at all possible, to live in the House for the entirety of a child’s treatment. It truly can be the deciding factor in so many cases.
At RMH-NY, we are way more than just a House and we will forever provide an environment where the entire family is welcomed with open arms because we know that is what is going to benefit our superheroes (the kids in treatment) most of all.
Piper’s dad, Garrett spoke to his family’s overall relationship with RMH-NY. “The Ronald McDonald (House New York) and our battle against cancer has been the biggest key for us.
Kimberly confidently added, “Single-handedly.”
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
As an organization, the staff, the volunteers, our Board, and all of those involved in making our House function, come together in September to celebrate, and spread the word about the state of childhood cancer in our House, in America, and across the world.
We began as a House that supported kids with cancer. Those are our roots. And while we are growing into having the mobility to support kids with cancer AND so many other complex medical diseases, it is still that disease that takes the most lives. It is for this reason that we will always place a special focus on children with cancer and continue to be a part of the reason more and more children are beating the odds and growing up cancer-free.
Until every child who comes to Ronald McDonald House New York with a cancer diagnosis walks out again with their whole lives ahead of them, Ronald McDonald House New York will continue to focus on cancer-related support.
If you want to learn more about how you can support the month-long Childhood Cancer Awareness efforts at Ronald McDonald House New York, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Donations from people who believe in our mission to serve these kids and their families are always needed. The success of our mission depends on individual donors like you. If you can give today, thank you. The easiest way is to click here and donate. This ensures your dollars are funneled directly and immediately back into supporting the kids that are staying in the House today.
Thank you for supporting our cause and our kids. We could not make the impact we are able to make on a daily basis without you!
***All statistics on childhood cancer were sourced from the American Childhood Cancer Organization.