At 4 years old, Emily Beckley fought a rare and fast-growing cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.
After chemotherapy and radiation, she was in remission. Life was good.
Then, on July 20, doctors at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines found a spot of rhabdomyosarcoma on her colon, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments started anew. She is 5 years old.
"Typically, it doesn't come back," said her mother, Melanie Beckley. "It's strange, very strange. It's a stage four aggressive cancer."
Throughout her daughter's treatments Melanie Beckley stays at the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital. While she's there, her husband, Mark Beckley, must stay in Fort Dodge to work. She feels comfortable at the house, not only for its home-like atmosphere, but for the support of staff and fellow residents.
"Emily loves staying at the Ronald McDonald House," Beckley said. "They have a lot of amenities that make it home away from home for children. She stays there when she has radiation and stays in the hospital when she has chemotherapy."
Pop can tabs being sought
Anyone with pop tabs to donate may contact Melanie Beckley by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 408-3674.
Pop tabs from name-brand cans weigh more, thus bring in more money, she said.
Ronald McDonald Houses collect pop tabs instead of entire aluminum cans because it's more hygienic to store tabs than cans, and collection and storage is easier. The program is an easy way for people of all ages to support the Ronald McDonald House and to know they are making a difference for families and children.
Cardboard collection containers in the shape of a house are available for distribution to schools, community and civic groups and other organizations in the area.
After the tabs are collected, the collection goes to recycling centers, where they are weighed to determine their value, and a check for the total value is made out.
Ronald McDonald Houses in the Upper Midwest raise about $30,000 a year through the pop tab program.
Beckley said she wants to do something for the house as a way to give back what she's received, so she's collecting pop can tabs.
"It's my personal goal to be able to present and deliver truckloads of tabs at once to the Ronald house," Beckley said. "As a community, I believe we can do it because I've seen the caring and generous hearts of Fort Dodge residents pull together and take care of each other.
"I'm asking residents or commercial businesses to save their pop cans for the Ronald McDonald House. Just the tab."
She said she would be able to get the cardboard houses available for people to drop their pop can tabs into.
"It's raising money for them because they're a wonderful organization and they help so many people," Beckley said. "Most of the time, the house is at full capacity. You never know when somebody's going to check out or is coming to check in."
She said reserving a room is not allowed, but families of cancer patients have first priority.
Beckley has set a deadline of Dec.1 of collecting pop tabs so she can deliver the tabs around Christmas.
She said she isn't asking for or accepting money - unless someone wants to donate products to the Ronald McDonald house, in which case they can call the house directly. "That number is 241-2111, and ask for Jennifer or Jack."
Collecting tabs may be time-consuming, but Beckley said there's a reason she's doing this.
"I just want to pay them back for such a wonderful place that truly feels like home away from home."
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com