In late August, two-year-old Ivy Gonzales started getting bloody noses, more bruises, and petichae (little red dots) on her chest. “We had gone in for a routine blood test to check her thyroid and when we left the clinic, we noticed her bandage from the blood draw was soaked with blood. I applied pressure but it wasn’t really stopping the bleeding,” Rosey, Ivy’s mother, explains. The next week, Ivy and her parents went it for a blood count. Her platelets were critically low and required Ivy to have an immediate blood transfusion. The family was sent to the oncology floor where the doctors told them they suspected leukemia. “The next morning, Ivy had a bone marrow aspiration that confirmed leukemia. By the afternoon, she had surgery to place a line and started chemo that same night.”
Last September, Ivy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Soon after, Ivy and her family started staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth. After her diagnosis, the oncologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center did not want Ivy staying more than twenty minutes away. The Gonzales family lives forty minutes away in Venus, Texas and they had to find a different solution. Rosey and Daniel, Ivy’s parents, spoke with a social worker and were recommended to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. In October, Ivy and her parents moved into the House.
Ivy, the youngest of four, had to leave her siblings when she came to the House. Her older siblings, Isaiah, 13, Isaac, 7, and Isla, 4, were attending school during majority of Ivy’s treatment and could not always stay at the House. “What we love most about RMHFW is that the House has treated us like family. Being away from our other children has been very hard,” says Rosey. “[The House] welcomed us with open arms. The staff made us feel at home.”
Due to a compromised immune system, Ivy could not go out in public or be around many people meaning a lot of time at the House. “When you can’t be home and you need to stay indoors day in and day out for months, a playroom is the perfect place to be. The House’s playroom became our safe place where Ivy could still be a kid even while going through treatment.” Ivy and her parents could be found at Cook Children’s Medical Center in the morning and back in the House playroom in the afternoon.
“RMHFW was our home-away-from-home and Ivy was able to just be a kid without having to worry about getting sick. That peace of mind was the silver lining on this cancer journey,” Rosey says.
One of the Gonzales’s favorite part about the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth was forming relationships with other families. “We met and became very close to a few families during our stay. Being able to turn to others going through similar situation was very helpful. We all came from different cities and would have never met if it wasn’t for RMHFW.”
While Ivy and her family were not able to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving at home, they were able to celebrate with the other families. During Halloween, RMHFW Student Volunteers passed out candy and played games with Ivy and the other House kids. On Christmas Eve, the Gonzales family played bingo with the other families who were unable to go home. “It gave us some normalcy in a chaotic time,” Rosey states.
After seven months at the House, Ivy and her parents were finally able to go home. Ivy is happy to be reunited with her siblings and loves to run around and play with them! She was just awarded a wish from the Make A Wish Foundation!
“We can never truly repay RMHFW for their generosity during this difficult time. It feels good to know that when you’re going through such a hard time, there are still people and places that care and are willing to help,” Rosey says.