Hannah Tewell’s Family

When six-year-old Hannah was diagnosed with aplastic anemia that required chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, her parents, Jen and Nick, had no idea how long they’d be away from home during the holidays. They just knew that they needed to be by Hannah’s side.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, the Tewells stayed at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s while Hannah underwent and recovered from the stem cell transplant, as well as her then four-year-old brother Bear, who was a perfect match to donate stem cells for her transplant.

“When Hannah was discharged, it was required that she remain within 10 miles of the hospital for a few weeks in the event of an emergency. We’re thankful we were able to maintain our stay at Ronald McDonald House so that Hannah could get the treatment she needed,” Jen noted.

During their stay over the holidays, Hannah and Bear enjoyed the different events at Ronald McDonald House, such as cookie decorating, and building Lego’s. Much to their surprise, “Santa” was able to deliver a gift, too!

“We will never forget spending Christmas at Ronald McDonald House,” Jen said. “It meant the world to us to be away from the sterile environment of the hospital and in a room that was safe, comfortable, and private. We built the Home Alone Lego house, watched movies, and decorated our room. We also received a thoughtful gift from Ronald McDonald House that our kids believed to be from Santa, which was especially nice given that it was a concern of theirs if Santa would find them or not.”

The Tewells reminisced on the impact Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana had on their family.

“To quote Bear, ‘It’s a hotel!’. Truly, though, it’s a home away from home. It’s comfort, it’s respite, it’s safety, it’s peace. You feel nurtured just being there, simply because you don’t have to worry about anything for a moment. Every family who stays at Ronald McDonald House is going through one of the worst times in their lives; Ronald McDonald House makes it so much more bearable and offers moments of peace in times of turbulence.”

Jen and Nick Tewell

They continued, “Without Ronald McDonald House, we wouldn’t have had a space to take a break, to cry, to sleep away from the hospital. We wouldn’t have been able to set aside financial concerns and focus on getting our daughter well. We wouldn’t have been able to spend Christmas together as a family. Ronald McDonald House took away the financial and emotional burden of figuring out how to keep our family intact when a disease was serving to keep us apart.”

Today, Hannah is energetic, spunky and a friend to all, as her parents say. She was recently declared “cured” and will have follow-ups annually at Lurie Children’s moving forward.