Sitting Down with Breanna

This April, RMHC Richmond celebrated our 38th Birthday with cake, Board members, and three special guests: Breanna (age 10), her little sister Kaylee, and her mother Brandy of Nathalie in Halifax County, Virginia.

Breanna entered the Feeding Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond on August 7, 2017. The Clinic is a leading national program for children struggling with medical conditions that prevent their nourishment and growth. An interdisciplinary team of specialists works with each child and family to address multiple factors involved with eating so that they can establish positive nutritional habits.

The program takes a supportive, comprehensive approach. It is vital for pediatric patients to remain close to their families so that they can maintain new habits once they finish the program and integrate their achievements into daily life.

For seven weeks, from 8am-2pm every week day Breanna received three treatment sessions for an hour each. She and her mother returned home to the Richmond RMHC House each evening, played monopoly with volunteers (always winning!), hung around with other kids, greeted guests, and even helped making dinner in the kitchen.

As Breanna explained “It was home. I made so many friends.”

The current RMHC Richmond House has nine private sleep rooms, but only one is wheel chair accessible with a private bathroom. That room, nicknamed “The Library” is reserved for families with mobility challenges and patients who are immunocompromised.

As mobile, repeat visitors, Brianna and Brandy were frequently placed in room Number 6 on the 3rd floor.

Each Friday they would check out after treatment, carry their luggage down flights of stairs, and pack the car to trek back to Halifax to see sister Kaylee and Dad.

Each Sunday night they would return, check back in, unpack their car, carry their luggage up the stairs, and prepare for morning treatments.

Despite the serious nature of Breanna’s treatment, and the long length of their stay, Breanna and Brandy formed fond memories.

As an out-patient, Breanna returns to Richmond every other week, and regularly stops by the House to see the volunteers and staff she now calls “friends.”

Since graduation, for the first time Breanna has eaten lunch with other kids at school, enjoyed pizza on family trips, and stood in line with her large extended family at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to try dishes from the family buffet. These small things that many take for granted can mean the world to a ten-year-old girl who has never had them before.

As Breanna and sister Kaylee blew out the candles on the RMHC Richmond Birthday cake they helped to celebrate another year of #keepingfamiliesclose during which RMHC Richmond served over 13,500 families.