Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bindi the Therapy Dog visits Family House!

 Thank you Sheila and Bindi for visiting our 10th Ave House!
We appreciate all the smiles, wags and laughs!

Monday, October 24, 2011

             At the end of August 2011, the Monicken family received life-changing news when their nine year old daughter, Hana, needed an emergency MRI after a routine eye exam. Doctors in Fairbanks, Alaska, found a mass in Hana’s brain. This mass was later identified as a tumor and the diagnosis of cancer was suddenly a part of the Monicken’s reality. They were quickly referred to UCSF Benioff Children’s Center at the beginning of September where Hana is currently in a 27 week course of chemotherapy and a 6 week course of daily radiation. 
            Dave and Mami, Hana’s parents cannot conceive what they would have done had they not found Family House. In early September, they arrived at our 10th Ave house deprived of sleep and a comfortable environment. They were so thankful after they were able to catch up on a private and quiet nights sleep with out any beeping monitors!
            Because the Monicken’s live in Alaska, Family House has allowed their family to stay together during Hana’s treatment. Hana’s older sister Emily was even able to come and meet her family once Hana was settled in. With their financial burden of accommodations lifted, and the convenience that Family House brings, the Monicken’s are now able to spend their time focused on Hana’s treatment and health.
            When asked what their favorite part of Family House is, Dave, Hana’s father talked about the general sense of security that Family House provides; the sense that everything is going to be okay. Dave even said with a smile that it is like being with relatives but better! There is no sense of imposition and they don’t even feel the burden that sometimes comes with being a guest. The Monicken’s are thankful for the remarkable staff and the huge comfort that comes with staying at Family House. Dave feels as though going through similar situations creates a unique and special bond and their entire family appreciates the sense of understanding that they get from the other families staying in the homes.

Have you laughed today?

ClownZero is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and communities worldwide through humanitarian clowning and therapeutic performing arts. They have been working with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital for the past year and have been making powerful changes in the lives of the patients they serve.

ClownZero is a strong believer in the health benefits of laughter. They believe that it can facilitate empathetic and imaginative play to fight against stress, reduce pain by releasing endorphins, promote a positive outlook, help patients and families cope with difficult situations, and strengthen the bonds between family members. Laughter can also boost the cardiovascular and respiratory systems by improving muscle capacity and deep breathing.

So please remember to make time in your day to laugh! It not only feels great, but it’s good for you too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”  Mohandas Gandhi

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Parra family shares their story

            Leslie Parra is a brave and strong 11 year old whose family has intermittently stayed at Family House since earlier this year. Leslie was first treated at UC Davis Medical Center after experiencing an aneurysm at the age of 4. In March of 2011, the Parra Family was referred to seek further treatment at UCSF Children’s Hospital based on the difficulties of diagnosing her condition. Leslie has gone through 5 brain surgeries in the past 4 years and doctors are just now beginning to get a better sense of her condition. Several kinds of brain tumors have been thought to be the culprit, but doctors are still not confident to make a concrete diagnosis. The Parra family has most recently been staying at our 10th Ave. House during Leslie’s radiation treatments and follow-ups. Thankfully, her scans are looking good and the radiation she has been receiving for the past two months seems to be helping a lot.
No matter what heath concerns a family is faced with, stress and the difficulties of an uncertain diagnosis are bound to affect the daily lives of the patient and their family. For Leslie and her parents, Family House is a place that helps lessen these stresses and troubles. Cathy and Macario, Leslie’s parents, are very grateful for their home away from home during Leslie’s visits to UCSF. Family House is not just a convenient place for the Parra family to stay while in San Francisco, but they also appreciate the encouragement and support that the other families staying in the house so willingly give.
Cathy also appreciates that Family House “provides everything” to covor their basic needs. She even feels as though she doesn’t want to go home to Salinas when she is here! When comparing similar organizations that the Parras have stayed with to Family House, Cathy feels as though there is no better place for her family. When asked about her favorite part of Family House, Cathy spoke fondly of the staff and said that they are all extremely sensitive to each family’s situation, and that they have the right heart for this kind of work. All staff members, Cathy says, are “there for you” and have great attitudes. In addition to the staff, Leslie would have to say that her favorite part of the house is the living room area and TVs :).