Ronald McDonald House, McHappy Day, and Kaylee Macintyre…

Photo Credit: John Ratchford

During morning cuddles with her four-year-old, on a day off from work, Trish Macintyre noticed a funny little “rash” on the arms of her daughter, Kaylee. A trip to the doctor that morning…meant to alleviate this mom’s nagging sense that something wasn’t right…turned Trish and Barry’s world upside down!

Within 24 hours, the family of three was rushed form their home in Little Bras d’Or, Cape Breton…to the IWK Children’s Centre in Halifax…as Kaylee, better known as “Kaylee Bear,” was an incredibly sick little girl.

At the time, Kaylee’s blood work indicated that she was left with very few blood cells in her tiny body…and it was a month of multiple tests and unbearable worry before they received the confirmed diagnosis that Kaylee had Aplastic Anemia…a rare blood disease that causes bone marrow failure.

For the next two years, Kaylee endured multiple hospital stays at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, IWK Children’s Hospital, and Toronto Sick Kids…where she received blood and platelet transfusions and dealt with numerous failed treatments.

Then finally, on May 8th, 2014…one year ago this week…a match was found and Kaylee received a Bone Marrow Transplant.

Kaylee, her parents and their entire community of family and friends will be celebrating her “new birthday” on Friday, with an Open House Party! Kaylee, Trish and Barry have been surrounded by love and support and they want to pay a HUGE THANKS to those who are affectionally referred to as “Kaylee’s Care-bears.”

For the last three years, this family has essentially been in strict isolation as their young daughter required  a “germ free” environment…but two weeks ago, the isolation was lifted and effective immediately, Kaylee is free to play in the dirt to her hearts content! This Summer, “outdoors” will be high on the family’s agenda as they plan to spend time at home with family and friends…hanging out around their new deck, pool and fire-pit! A well-deserved treat after so much time spent inside.

With red hair to match her fiery personality…Kaylee’s spirit and determination have pulled her through some pretty rough days. The once sick little girl is singing and dancing…taking on the world with a smile…a force to be reckoned with. She’s kicked Aplastic Anemia’s butt and is ready to get back to every day living including heading back to the classroom (hopefully by June) where she can join her grade two class and catch up with all of her friends. As well, Kaylee and her parents are looking forward to a much anticipated family trip to Disney in February, with The Children’s Wish Foundation.

The Macintyre’s will be throwing a party this week…in great celebration for everything they’ve been through, all that’s ahead for them and the people who have supported them from the beginning…it seems fitting, on McHappy Day, that they throw out another BIG THANK YOU to Ronald McDonald House for everything they’ve done to help.

While both in Halifax and Toronto, Ronald McDonald House has been the family’s home away from home as “out of town” medical expenses added up. Bottom line, while dealing with a sick child, life continues to happen as mortgages and car payments still come out of the bank each month, the power and water bills still keep showing up in the mail box…and groceries and gas still need to be purchased. Ronald McDonald House provides a clean, welcoming, affordable place to stay through it all. Ronald McDonald House, along with their partners, WestJet and Killam properties, all provided assistance to the Macintyre family when needed. As Trish states, “they lifted a burden and allowed us to be there for our little princess…and not worry a whole lot about financial woes.”

During their stay at Ronald McDonald House, the Macintyre’s were often in the company of other families going through similar circumstances…sharing their stories, offering advice…being there for one another. Volunteers were ready to play games, make crafts and offer comfort for the little ones…and there was ALWAYS a tray or two of fresh baked goods and a cup of tea on the stove.

Kaylee is on the road to recovery but will remain a patient at the IWK for many years ahead…Ronald McDonald House will be part of their healing and as Trish points out, “we are so blessed that they are there….with the red door always open and a friendly face on the other side.”

Today is McHappy Day at McDonald’s® Restaurants…an annual fundraiser that supports the 20,000 families served each year by Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada! Drop into your local restaurant and offer your support.

Then on Friday, take a moment to think about Kaylee Macintyre, her family and friends…as they celebrate their one year milestone…a “new birthday”…another happy day.