Father holds his son

New Beginnings: Nolan’s Story

After an anxious four-hour drive from Bullhead City, Arizona, the Hemphill family felt a sense of relief when they walked through the doors of Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix. “We made it home in time for dinner,” said Chaz, mother of three-year-old Nolan. The House is providing the comfort her family needs while they go through the most trying time of their lives.

In March 2017, after undergoing brain surgery to remove three tumors, Nolan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. When the family received the news, Chaz said, “Our world flipped upside down.” While Nolan recovers from the first of two stem cell transplants, the family knows that they have a constant ally through their journey. “All you want for your family is stability,” Chaz said. “Ronald McDonald House provided some sort of stability through the madness.”

Described by his dad Justin, as being “non-stop,” Nolan hasn’t lost his spark through his diagnosis. “That kid is amazing. He’s what keeps us going,” Chaz said. “He’ll go from getting chemo five days in a row, throwing up all night long, to getting discharged and come here and run rampant all over this place. He goes to his toys and he’s back in his zone. He wants to romp on the jungle gym. He tells us all the time, ‘We’re going to beat this cancer. We make the best team ever!’”

The family also added a member to their brood while staying at the House. Nolan was promoted to big brother in August with the birth of his sibling, Mark. And when it was time for baby brother to go “home,” the Ronald McDonald House welcomed him with open arms. Chaz said, “This is home for now. We have a roof over our heads, somewhere cozy to bring him, which is pretty much all that matters.”

Beyond just a place to sleep, the family is grateful for every aspect of comfort in their temporary home. “If we didn’t have Ronald McDonald House, we wouldn’t have a hot meal to eat. It’s everything, to the little things like hand soap and dish soaps and the laundry detergent. Having it all available right there for us.”
Chaz is grateful that her family doesn’t have to fight this battle alone and that, even far from home, both her and her husband are able to stay close to Nolan. “This is something we have to do together,” she said, “every step of the way.”