Ronald McDonald House
Apryl’s Big Adventure
By Gene Davis
Last summer, less than one month after moving to Kauai from Colorado, 15–year–old Apryl Erickson and her parents, Evi and Paul, decided that they needed to get to the bottom of why Apryl had been feeling sick for so long. She was still managing to participate in favorite activities like running, dancing, and hiking but something wasn’t right and the backpains she was experiencing were getting worse. They pressed doctors to dig deeper, and upon further testing, Apryl was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer.
“My reaction to being diagnosed was more glad then worried,” says Apryl. “I had been feeling sick for over a year. I had been to plenty of doctors who had told me that nothing was wrong and I was tired of it. I was glad to finally know that I had found a treatment and things were going to get better.”
Any summer plans Apryl and her family had quickly vanished, and they were suddenly forced to deal with an unexpected detour — Apryl’s serious illness. To Oahu they came, seeking medical intervention by specialists at Kapiolani Medical Center. During Apryl’s weeks of inpatient treatments, Evi remained by her side, curling up in Apryl’s room to sleep at night and eating whatever was available there.
When Apryl reached the outpatient phase of her treatments, she and mom both moved into the Judd Hillside Ronald McDonald House. As she finished up her chemotherapy, Apryl appeared unfazed by it all. The tall, graceful teen’s blond hair began growing back and she seemed to carry herself with a self–confidence that this cancer thing would not get the best of her. “Treatment was difficult, but with the support of my friends and family I felt as though I could do anything,” she says. “I almost felt stronger while I was in treatment at times because of the people reaching out.”
Evi, too, acknowledges the positive things that have come out of Apryl’s illness. “It was very hard in the beginning when we first found out,” she says. “But now looking back at it, so many good things came out of it. I love all the support we got and the many new friends we made. Apryl and I got so close to each other and our bond is very strong; we will always cherish that. As a result of the hardship, we learned to trust and lean on each other.”
Mom and daughter were very excited to be able to return home to Kauai following Apryl’s treatments. She’s attending classes at Kauai High and hoping to get back to her running, where she excels in the middle distances. She thinks she may like to start her own bakery someday, “But my future plans and goals change daily,” she adds, which is not unlike most 15–year–olds.
When cancer is involved, perspectives change and there’s always the fear that the disease will return. “We’re waiting to see the doctor in late February, when Apryl will go through all the testing,” says Evi. “We pray for good results and that will determine what comes next.”
If a positive attitude can make a difference, Apryl has the upper hand. She doesn’t act like a victim; instead she just expresses gratitude for the support she has received. “I learned that there are people out in the world who really do care. People I don’t even know,” she says. “When I was going through my treatments I had more people contacting me and reaching out to me than ever before and it really shows that there are a lot of good people in the world.”
“It was a great experience staying at the Ronald McDonald House,” Evi says. “Financially, it was a big help not to worry about hotel costs. We made some new friends and did some fun things too with the help of RMHC–HI!”