A few weeks after Liberty Brattin celebrated her 9th birthday, she was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia. About a month prior, Liberty began feeling extreme pain in her mouth, so much so that it made it challenging to eat.
After a visit with the family’s doctor, who suspected she was experiencing growing pains that would eventually go away. Yet, the pain and discomfort in her mouth continued. As time went on, Liberty developed severe pain in her legs, resulting in a noticeable limp and, eventually, an inability to walk. Her parents decided to take Liberty to Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg. After 3 days of treatment, she was transferred to UNC Children’s Hospital for further testing.
At UNC, doctors performed multiple biopsies and bone marrow testing on Liberty, which confirmed an unimaginable diagnosis – Burkitt’s leukemia. This condition is also known as Burkitt’s lymphoma, which occurs when tumor cells develop in the bone marrow and bloodstream. Burkitt’s lymphoma is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and is a blood cancer that affects B lymphocytes and how well a person can fight infections.
Despite this unsettling news, Liberty’s father remembered how it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis. “It was comforting to know exactly what was wrong after so many tests; I was ready to make a plan and fight this thing.”
Knowing the Brattins would be in Chapel Hill for an extended period, the staff at UNC referred the family to Ronald McDonald House so they could be close to Liberty during this trying time. Both parents remarked how welcome they felt when they first arrived at the House, “The Ronald McDonald House was very inviting, comforting, and felt like a second home as soon as we walked through the doors.” The Brattins have two other children, ages 3 and 7, and expressed how thankful they were that RMH was a place that their children could play and feel safe while they supported Liberty at the hospital. “The House really took the worry out of everything, both financially and as a parent to our other two children.
Having a place where they could enjoy themselves in a safe environment has been life changing. The family recently checked out of the House prior to the July 4th holiday and are ready to fight by Liberty’s side each and every day.
“A huge thank you to the Ronald McDonald House, it’s been such a blessing receiving this level of support. It’s hard to put into words just how thankful we are,” remarked Liberty’s very emotional dad. “We are so thankful that the House has allowed our family to remain together during this difficult time.”