That's the predicament hundreds of Gem State families find themselves in every year.
So the Ronald McDonald House steps in, with its famous big, red foot...and a smile from ear to ear.
The Lott family from Filer has been going to St. Luke's MSTI Unit in Boise since Jared Lott was 14 years old.
He's finishing his final treatments for Leukemia.
Jared's mother Keri, her husband and Jared's six siblings have been driving back and forth from Filer for years.
Keri said they couldn't stay in Boise for long periods of time without the Ronald McDonald House.
It's just too expensive and too exhausting.
"Knowing that going to the hospital all day - and then coming back here and there was usually a hot, cooked meal, you know, and you could just kind of relax," she said.
For Jared, the Ronald McDonald House has been his home.
"They were always welcoming, so they'd always sorta wrap their arms around you and they were very giving and generous," he said.
He's gotten a break, and so has his mom.
"There were several times when Jared would go to sleep at the hospital and I didn't want to be alone, so they would give me a movie card and I would go to a movie just so I could be out and around people," she said.
Executive Director Mindy Plumlee said she knows no one wants to be there under the conditions they're in.
"Our job is to care for the family so they can just focus on the well-being of their child," she said.
The Ronald McDonald house serves close to 600 families per year.
Families from outside of Ada County with a sick child who's 18 or younger can stay for as long as they need.
A ten-dollar donation per night is suggested, but not mandatory.
"We really don't consider financial need because a family's financial situation day one of a child's illness - and day 800 of a child's illness - could potentially be very different," she said.
The Ronald McDonald House provides in every way they can: meals, gas cards, movie cards, grocery cards... all of which... costs.
So they could use any help they can get.
"Our grocery bills are a few hundred dollars a week so anything like that helps," Plumlee said.
For Keri, she's eternally grateful.
"I think the peace that it brings to your heart when your heart's troubled. and just have the peace that comes with that," she said.
And for Jared, it's been more than a place of healing - - it's a source of inspiration.
The guy who's been on the receiving end for so many years, now wants to give back.
Someday... he wants to be a doctor.
"I won't have to put myself in their shoes, because I've already been there," he said.