But treating Evan’s leukemia required some of the best doctors in one of the best hospitals in Canada. So Jill and Evan traveled outside of their community to Edmonton and then to Calgary for intensive chemo therapy and then a stem cell transplant. Upon the family’s arrival, the Wallaces checked-in to the Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta.
At the House, the Wallace family received so much more than a roof over their head, keeping them close to the hospital and to Evan. Within the House were 22 other family suites – 22 other families going through trials similar to what the Wallaces were facing. They weren’t alone. Alongside 22 other children and families, offering support and strength Evan fought with her all her might.
"I had heard of Ronald McDonald Houses before, but I didn't really know what they were, or how they helped, or how much my family would need one,” recalled Jill. "Nobody can relate to what you're going through quite like another family staying at the House. We all just came together and supported each other in every way possible. It was amazing."
After Evan's transplant, Jill and Evan spent the majority of their time away from the hospital, in the House "just healing." Most days, Evan could be found in the Craft Room, gluing, coloring, and glittering projects that she was proud of. Evan and Jill also embraced spending free time with all the other families at the House, baking, enjoying volunteer-prepared meals, sharing stories, and getting better together.
The time spent at the House, especially the weekends when Evan’s brothers and father came to visit, played a vital role in Evan’s recovery.
"Had we not been able to spend time together as a family at the Ronald McDonald House, I'm not sure where we'd be," says Jill. "The House helped Evan, me, and my whole family heal.”
For a total of 108 nights, Jill found a very real kind of magic inside the walls of a Ronald McDonald House. It was the kind of power that RMHC is known for – healing power that comes from the RMHC network of support and the gift of togetherness when its needed most.