The Hill/McFadden Family

In preschool, Charles “Cam” McFadden’s teacher noticed that every day, at the same spot along their usual route, he would smell something no one else could smell. The sensation was so strong, he would feel sick to his stomach and vomit. 

Initially, doctors were unable to figure out exactly what caused this strange issue, but they placed him on steroids in hopes that the medication might give him relief from these reactions. 

Then in kindergarten, the same issue surfaced once again. At specific points throughout the school, Cam smelled something so strong he would become physically ill. Other than now frequently complaining about stomach pains, he didn’t seem sick at all.

More doctors’ visits left everyone confused, as X-rays showed a perfectly healthy stomach. But when medications weren’t alleviating Cam’s pain; and when physicians were unable to pinpoint a reason for the pain, his mom, Ashanti Hill, and his doctors at the Le Bonheur Children’s Outpatient Center in Tupelo, Miss. knew they needed more intensive testing.

Ashanti, Cam and Cam’s father, Brandon McFadden, then visited Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, nearly 2 hours from home. Doctors performed an endoscopy procedure, and Cam wore a monitor for 72 hours to see how his body reacted to things in his environment. 

They finally had answers. Cam, now 6, is lactose intolerant. This diagnosis was life-changing for the family, as they soon learned they would have to approach Cam’s diet in a completely different way. When Ashanti told Cam he could no longer eat his favorite food—pizza—he couldn’t hold back the tears.

Despite the challenges presented with figuring out this new lifestyle, Ashanti remains thankful to have found answers, as well as a place of comfort for Cam. 

Before arriving for Cam’s first appointment at Le Bonheur, Ashanti was overwhelmed trying to figure out how they could afford gas and a hotel stay, as she had just recently undergone surgery herself. 

FedExFamilyHouse quickly lifted that burden.

“I’m so glad that this was an option and we were able to stay there because it took such a load off my mind. Cam loves the place, and we slept well while we were there. It was just all-around comforting,” says Ashanti.

Every day, Ashanti is learning how to best care for Cam, but she is thankful to have the support of his medical team and FedExFamilyHouse. From the kindness shown when Cam experienced difficulties with his IV before the endoscopy to the selfless volunteers at FedExFamilyHouse, who care for the entire family, Ashanti says, “I just know this is going to be OK.”