Ronald McDonald House
Riding It Out Together
By Gene Davis
Even though Ben Acob had a lot on his mind the day he, his wife Nita, and 17-year-old son Micah were returning home to Maui, he enthusiastically took over the Judd Hillside House’s kitchen and began cooking made-to-order omelets for everyone on the RMHC-HI staff. Ben explained that “it was just a small token of appreciation, and we did it with all our hearts.”
It actually wasn’t the first time Ben showed that he knows his way around a kitchen. During the five months he and his family had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, he frequently put together meals that he gladly shared with the other families and the staff.
This wasn’t how the Acob family expected to spend five months: away from home, addressing Micah’s very difficult health issues. But sometimes the unexpected happens and you must endure.
Ben, Nita and Micah Acob were excited to be going home to Maui after five months on Oahu.
“When we came over here we had round trip tickets. We expected to return right away, so we were surprised when the doctor said we would have to stay,” recalled Ben. “We just looked at each other and said, ’Where are we going to stay?’ The doctor said he thought we could stay up at the Ronald McDonald House, and since we arrived here, this House has helped us so much.”
Their personal upheaval had begun back in January when Micah began having bouts of high fever. Soon, he also began having pain in his shoulder, back and neck. After several visits to his pediatrician and emergency room, a final x-ray showed a mass in Micah’s chest. Ben said that “the next day they gave him a CT Scan and by the afternoon, they called us and said we had to go to Honolulu right away.”
Even after arriving at Kapiolani Hospital it took about a week for doctors to determine the exact diagnosis. This was crucial because the course his treatments would take depended on it. It was Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, and doctors began the first of six rounds of chemotherapy. “They saw it in his liver and different parts of his spine,” Ben said. “They said it was stage four, so his treatments needed to be intense,” added Nita.
“Each round lasted five days, and there were different kinds of chemo, Ben explained. “After each round, he has had to recover for a couple of weeks to gain enough strength for the next round. Chemo was difficult for Micah. Sometimes he would do really well and other times it was really hard for him.”
Before leaving for the airport, Ben, Nita and Micah paused to take a photo with some of the RMHC-HI staff members.
Then, after five months of struggling with the devastating side effects of his chemotherapy, Micah was able to go home to Maui — to school, and to be with his friends and other family members. Ben might now get to open that small law office he was planning, and Nita will be able to return to her job too.
Nita knows that Micah’s doctors will be keeping a close watch on his health. “He’s in a clinical study and so he will be monitored for five years,” she said. “Monthly, then every quarter, every six months and then yearly after that.&rdquo
As they headed home, Ben and Nita reflected on their time at the Ronald McDonald House. “As we dealt with our son’s condition, we tried to figure out for what purpose or message the disease has for us,” Ben shared. “We are convinced that one of them, among others, was to experience the House That Love Built, meet all of you, the volunteers, and other residents, who all have made a special impression upon us for the rest of our lives. If we didn’t have this place, we would have had to stay in a hotel or go home every time, which costs a lot.”