You Feel at Home

The Ronald McDonald House in Greenville helps families whose children are receiving treatment at local medical facilities.
By Lindsey Listrom
You Feel at Home

Tyler Gordon is a typical 12-year-old boy in Gates County who loves his family, God, friends and sports. He's also battling a rare form of testicular cancer.

Since April, he and his family have crisscrossed eastern North Carolina traveling to doctor visits and surgeries. In August he completed 23 straight days of radiation. Every morning, with his hands raised overhead, a machine scanned over his back and belly delivering radioactive, cell-killing rays. He now endures weekly chemotherapy treatments at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, which is nearly two hours away from his Gatesville home.

The treatments are exhausting and nauseating. "The first couple of weeks were especially rough," said Tyler's mom, Cathie Eason. "He was throwing up, and his mouth was so sore he could hardly eat."

Commuting home is out of the question, so Tyler and his mom stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina while he receives treatments. The House provides a temporary, home away from home for families of seriously ill or injured children receiving treatment from area medical facilities. "It's been a blessing," Cathie said. "The staff is so supportive. They are genuinely concerned about the people in this house, and you feel safe. You feel at home."

ballpresentation

Tyler Gordon, with his mother and stepdad, got a game ball from Dan Allen of Four County EMC when the electric co-ops hosted the family at an ECU game this season.

The Eason family at the Ronald McDonald House

This fall, North Carolina's electric cooperatives invited Tyler and his family to attend an East Carolina University football game. Tyler received a signed game ball at mid-field in the first quarter, and the family sat in VIP seats. A video featuring the family ran on the jumbo-screen during halftime and later on the coach's TV show. Cathie said the game was a bright spot for Tyler, who dutifully reported to the hospital for chemo the morning after the game.

She is grateful for the welcoming and comfortable feel of the House, and for the flexibility to easily travel back and forth from the hospital. "It's hard as a mom, not being able to fix it, when your child is going through something like this."

At home in Gatesville, the small community has rallied around Tyler. They've attended fundraisers, and "he's on everybody's prayer list," Cathie said. "Tyler is a good kid. Everybody knows him, and when they heard what was going on, they just wanted to help."

Cathie says Tyler (both shown at above) never complains, and she's proud of the strength, humility and spirituality he has shown through his illness. He recently started seventh grade on-schedule with his classmates at Central Middle School. His treatments continue through May 16, 2014. Until that day, the Easons will continue their journey in Greenville, staying at the Ronald McDonald House while Tyler makes strides towards recovery.

Electric co-ops lend their support

North Carolina's electric cooperatives are longtime supporters of the House, which in 2012 served families from 46 North Carolina counties. In 26 years, the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina has housed over 12,000 families representing more than 25,000 admissions.

Mike Davis, general manager of Tri-County EMC based in Dudley, is the president of the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina board of directors. "The House provides a vital service in the eastern part of the state and makes a huge difference for families facing difficult times," Davis said. "North Carolina's electric cooperatives are proud to support them."

This year, a second Greenville-based Ronald McDonald House opened inside the new James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. This facility, known as the Ronald McDonald House at Vidant Medical Center, is available to any family with a child receiving treatment at Maynard Children's Hospital, even those on an outpatient basis. The space features a 2,500-square-foot common area where families can gather and meet others going through similar challenges, as well as six rooms for overnight guests. Just steps away from children's hospital rooms, this much-needed place of respite is complete with a kitchen and dining area, playroom, outdoor patio, private bathroom with a shower, serenity lounge, computer room and laundry facilities.

For more information about the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina, call (252) 847-5435 or visit: rmhenc.org.

About the Author

Lindsey Listrom is a communication specialist with the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives.

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