Family Stories


The Crilley family’s journey began on July 27, 2016.

Twelve-year-old Sadie remembers that day clearly. After experiencing headaches that would not go away her parents, Gail and Michael, took her to the ER in her hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick. Her doctor sent her to get an MRI where she ended up having a seizure on the table. Within two hours, they were on the road to Halifax. Sadie was later diagnosed with a brain tumour.

On September 5th, the Crilley’s arrived at Ronald McDonald House for the first time.

“One of the things I had hoped to do when I came to the House was to connect with other people who had similar problems,” says Gail. “We had spent a month and a half at the IWK and it was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was looking forward to the company because sometimes when you’re alone you end up thinking way too much.”

The Crilley’s have been staying at the House from Monday to Friday each week while Sadie undergoes radiation. They enjoy many things about the House; the closeness to the hospital, the welcoming kitchen, the home cooked meals, and the strain it has taken off of them financially.

“Ronald McDonald House is a place where we can be together and let our defenses down just a little,” says Michael. “We appreciate the support of everyone around us and the caring staff that are willing to help in any way that they can.”

Michael has a special understanding of what Sadie is going through. He had his own battle with colon cancer in 2008. He says that he often knows how she is feeling because he has experienced similar things himself.

“I have good days and I have bad days but I choose to look for the small things in life to smile about,” says Michael.

Sadie’s love for drawing and design helps to keep a smile on her face.

She was one of the rare individuals in the past 20 years who actually requested to decorate her own radiation mask. She brought the mask back and forth from the hospital to Ronald McDonald House so she could decorate it with her prisma coloured markers that had been chemically-tested for radiation. Her inspiration for the mask was Batman.

Sadie also has big plans for the future.

She would like to pursue a career in design. She is eligible for a wish from the Children’s Wish Foundation and plans to use it to travel to Walt Disney Animations in California where one day she hopes to have a job as a storyboard artist. She is looking forward to bringing her portfolio of work to show them on her visit.

“Sadie has done phenomenally well,” says Gail. “She has always been mature for her age. She is such a positive, happy kid.”