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Geen Family finds comfort in the Ronald McDonald Family Room during son’s cancer treatments

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On October 25, 2021, Jennifer and Brian Geen heard the devasting news that two-year-old Ollie was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer that affects about 1 in 1 million children. Scans from an Urgent Care visit were irregular; Ollie was taken to the Emergency Room, leading the family to the oncology department at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. He was immediately admitted and prepped for a three-hour exploratory surgery the next day. His medical team found a six-inch tumor in a position where it may not be able to be removed.

On November 2, a week after his diagnosis, little Ollie began his first round of in-patient chemotherapy. Within the next few months, the Geen family spent many nights within hospital walls as Ollie underwent his first twelve weeks of chemotherapy. Jennifer and Brian couldn’t imagine leaving their son’s side during the whirlwind of the experience, even with their home only 15 minutes away in Sunset Hills, Missouri.

Thankfully, the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside the hospital provided comfort and care when they needed it most.

“It was a place to decompress,” explains Jennifer. “The Family Room was the only quiet space we could find from the loud machines, noises, and distractions. We found both mental and physical comfort in the space.”

By February 7, 2022, Ollie was cleared for surgery to remove the tumor. The Geen family went to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for specialty care. Jennifer and Brian anxiously waited for news as Ollie underwent the high-risk seven-hour surgery.

“It was the most difficult day of our lives. We started wandering the halls and found the Ronald McDonald Family Room; it felt nice to have a familiar place,” says Jennifer. “We were grateful to have the space to gather ourselves during the emotional and stressful day inside the hospital.”

The tumor had shrunk to almost half the original size from his treatment and was successfully removed. Jennifer and Brian were elated when the doctors shared the update after surgery.

Ollie continued six more weeks of chemotherapy. Which meant more inpatient treatment for Ollie and more stops in the Family Room for Jennifer and Brian. Throughout the weeks of his care, Ollie’s parents used the Family Room whenever they needed to jump on a work call, follow up on emails, grab extra coffee or take a break emotionally from the situation.

On March 29, 2022, Ollie received his final chemotherapy treatment, and the Geen family celebrated by ringing the bell at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital together after 156 days of treatment. Shortly after, scans confirmed that three-year-old Ollie was in remission.

“If not for the support of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, the whole situation would have been even more difficult. We are so grateful to be able to use these support services,” says Jennifer. “The small things, like routine, can make such a difference. We had been supporters of RMHC but didn’t realize the impact it would have on our family.”

Jennifer and Brian have continued to support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis annually. Jennifer is a Senior Account Manager at Trane, while Brian serves as a Vice President of Relationship Management at Enterprise Bank – a company that has supported the charity throughout the years and values the work in the community.

Now, Ollie is four years old and continues in remission. His parents say he is an “avid playground enthusiast” who loves his weekly swim and soccer lessons and has enjoyed his time back in preschool.

“It’s remarkable how resilient he truly is,” says Jennifer. “We are so proud of his strength and continue to value the time we have together as a family.”

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