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HomeNewsPrince George teen shares experience in Ronald McDonald House after beating cancer

Prince George teen shares experience in Ronald McDonald House after beating cancer

“My world came crashing down when I was diagnosed.”

That is how Jocelyn Kerr remembers first being told she had stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma on New Year’s Eve, 2021.

Kerr was 17 years old and in her senior year at College Heights Secondary School at the time she learned she would have to spend anywhere between 2 weeks and 7 months in the Vancouver Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

“They told me I had to get 12 treatments of chemotherapy, I would be losing my hair – which was a shock to me because I had very long, beautiful red hair,” she remembered. “We didn’t know how long to pack for, but we knew we were leaving immediately.”

Kerr stayed in the Ronald McDonald House for 176 days.

When she left, she was cancer free.

“It was June 30th, 2022. I was very relieved when I rang the bell… knowing I was cancer free, that I was done treatment, it gave me an opportunity to reset my life. I was 18 at the time and starting college in three months,” she said. “It was a big turning point in my life.”

Now 19 and studying American Sign Language in Vancouver, Kerr could not have given a more glowing review of her time in the Ronald McDonald House.

“It was the best place to stay in the worst situation,” she said. “Ronald McDonald House supported me through the toughest time of my life. I made incredible friends there, and we met incredible families.”

“I visit there often, it is an amazing place to be,” she said. “The families there knew exactly what was going on because they were in the same situation. We would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together… I made really strong connections that will be lifelong friends.”

Family Day marks an annual fundraiser for the BC / Yukon Ronald McDonald House, their goal is to raise $10,000.

“Before getting diagnosed, I thought sick kids just went there and stayed with their families, but it was so much more than that,” Kerr said. “It was a safe, calm and welcoming home away from home. It made me realize I wasn’t alone.”

Some amenities Kerr fondly remembers include a music room, a basketball court, and a garden she often spent time in when she was missing her own in Prince George. The house is also conveniently only 500 feet away from the BC Children’s Hospital.

“The staff and personnel is one of a kind. They are so kind hearted, they put on programs, bring in therapy dogs, and provide food and services that are unlike any other.”

Kerr also mentioned 25% of the people who use the Ronald McDonald House are from northern BC, which she thought may be a surprise for some.

“They serve over 2,000 families a year, and have 73 different rooms. They’re immaculate.”

At the time of writing, the Ronald McDonald House’s fundraiser is under 10% of the way to its $10,000 goal. You can find it, and more information here.

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