There are so many hardships that families endure when their child has cancer. Often overlooked, there is the hardship placed upon so many families who are not located near the hospital where their child is getting treatment. Some families must travel hours to get to the nearest children’s hospital… often times travel to another state is required. Not only are the families stressed because of what their child is going through, added on top of that is often having to leave part of the family behind, having to find a place to stay for days, weeks, or months. Hospitality homes, such as the Alyssa House, help to ease the hardship by providing affordable housing to families with children who have a medical crisis.
A beautiful young girl who loved singing, dancing, gymnastics, horses, dolphins, and reading. One day while in a tap class, she informed her mom that her knee really hurt. That pain turned out to be Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in her distal femur. A fracture in the tumor had also caused the cancer to spread throughout her body. After 40 weeks of chemo, the unfortunate news was that the tumor was therapy resistant and had regrown.
At the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Alyssa allowed the team to pioneer a new amputation and limb salvage surgery in an effort to also rid her body of the disease. However, 7 months later, after 38 additional hospitalizations, the cancer had spread to her young lungs.
Alyssa lost her battle on December 31, 2012 at the much too young age of 10.
The Alyssa House
In order to treat Alyssa, who’s family lived in Virginia, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the family had to relocate to Houston temporarily. Being in a strange place, with a sick child, with all the stress and frustrations that cancer treatments bring with them, is not easy on any family or child. After Alyssa passed, her family didn’t forget their hardships and decided to help other families who would be facing similar struggles.
Alyssa’s mom says, “You don’t have your community when you’re away from home, The Alyssa House will come with a built-in community.”
Alyssa House is located just a few miles from either of the major hospital systems, University of Virginia Hospital or Martha Jefferson Hospital on 1011 Elliot Avenue in Charlottesville.
Lori and I were fortunate (and I use that word with some trepidation) that we lived just miles from Emily’s hospital. We were able to get to and from the hospital in about 20 minutes, allowing us not only quick and easy access to the hospital, but it allowed us to remain in our community, and in the comfort of our home.
So many families must travel huge distances, be separated from family, their home.. often times having to quit their jobs. These are all additional stressors that these families do not need to have added to an already too stressful environment.