Piper Schultz’s Family

The day before Piper Schultz’s first birthday in March 2021, Piper’s parents, Meagan and Michael, were excited to take their daughter to her swimming lesson and begin planning her special day. Instead, when Piper had trouble breathing during swim class, she was rushed to Lurie Children’s Hospital after a CT scan revealed a mass on her lungs – what doctors later diagnosed as neuroblastoma.

For her birthday and for the next six weeks, Piper was in the pediatric intensive care and oncology units at Lurie Children’s, her parents by her side.

While Piper was lucky that her cancer was caught early, “Piper’s needs were very critical,” her mother Meagan shared. “She needed to be ventilated by hand by the nurses because she had such trouble breathing. Even though we lived nearby, going home for an hour to take a shower or sleep still felt too long to be away from her when she was that critical.”

Hospital staff suggested the family reach out to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana, which has a Ronald McDonald Family Room within Lurie Children’s, only a few floors away from where Piper was being cared for.

“It still felt strange to leave Piper’s side,” Meagan recalls. “But our room was so quiet and serene, and we were so thankful for space to rest nearby. You don’t realize how draining just hearing the constant beeping of monitors can be – the room was our sanctuary to relax for a few hours so we could focus on caring for Piper.”

Staff at the Ronald McDonald Family Room did everything possible to make the Schultz family’s stay easy – even bringing the room keys down to Piper’s bedside so her parents didn’t have to leave. Easy grab-and-go meals and snacks meant they always had something to eat at the end of a long day.

While Piper still needs five more rounds of chemotherapy, her parents were grateful for the opportunity to stay so close to their child – and they encourage other families in need to accept the help as well.

“Even if you live nearby, you still have the need to be close to your child when they’re so sick,” said Meagan. “Everyone is there to take care of you and help you with whatever you need.”