Imagine frantically searching for answers to why your baby is struggling to eat, breathe and thrive. No one in your local medical community can tell you what’s wrong. “I just kept praying to God, please help me find out what’s wrong with my baby,” said Dawn, Lexi’s mom.
As an infant, little Lexi was in and out of the hospital with a number of medical issues. “As a mom, you just know when something’s not right with your baby. Lexi would sleep 20 hours a day. She would struggle to breathe during feedings and turn purple. She would just stop breathing. One day, we were so scared we called 911 for an ambulance,” said Dawn.
Within 16 hours of arriving at the local emergency room, Lexi was referred to Michigan Medicine’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Following a CAT scan, Dawn overheard the neurologist say, “Oh my God, that’s the largest tumor I’ve ever seen.” Little Lexi’s massive tumor started in her tiny spinal cord, then expanded as it traveled upward into her delicate brain.
Lexi’s first brain surgery occurred two days later and took 18 hours to perform. She would go on to have yet another brain surgery. She endured an additional two-and-a-half years of intermittent chemotherapy, followed by another five months of radiation. During these hospital stays, Lexi’s family who lived an hour away, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House located across the street from C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
“We were trying to save our daughter’s life, without neglecting our son Brent. Ronald McDonald House was our place to be a family. It’s where we could spend time with our son, take a nap and be back by Lexi’s side within a 5-minute walk. They always went the extra mile to help take the worry off our shoulders,” said Dawn.
Dawn’s mother stayed at the House with Brent while Dawn and Rick, Lexi’s dad, went back and forth to the hospital. Occasionally, they would get some time to play in the play room or watch a video with their son. “It meant so much to get an hour of normal,” said Dawn. “Being at the hospital all the time is so overwhelming; you sometimes need to walk away and regroup.” She is appreciative that the Ronald McDonald House gave her the flexibility to do that.