The difference is, life-threatening illness pushes these questions to the forefront of your mind, especially if you’re a teen or child. It gives them an urgency they might not have if you’re well. If you’re hospitalized on top of it, it can be hard to think of much else.
That’s why wishes are so crucial to helping wish kids feel better. No matter your age, whether you’re a teen looking to bolster your career or a tot that just wants to hug a puppy, your wish is all about you and your own answers to those questions.
I keep in mind that the people who know wish families best are … you guessed it, other wish families. So, in their own words, here is a list that celebrates the individuality of wishes as well as the journey wish kids share.
Adriana, 2.5, life-threatening neurological disease, I wish to have horse therapy lessons (Massachusetts and Rhode Island)
Adriana regains her childhood excitement as she sits atop her horse. The equestrians hold onto her as she rides, and her mother looks on, proud and excited for her daughter.
Adriana’s mom: “It’s an amazing thing to witness.”
Photos courtesy of Steven Houle Photography
David, 3, Wilm’s tumor, I wish to go to the San Diego Zoo (Minnesota)
Animals have been David’s inspiration since he was first diagnosed with Wilm’s tumor at age 1. He and his parents bond by exploring the zoo, stopping to make friends with the jaguars and hippos.
Lisa, David’s mom: “It was so amazing. We were thrilled that David could have this special trip. It thrilled him like you wouldn’t believe. It was a time for us to “celebrate” that the treatments were done. It was a time for our family to be together with no worries.”
Thomas, 4, leukemia, I wish to go to the air show in Anchorage (Alaska and Washington)
The airplanes flying by Thomas’ hospital window bring him joy, even though he’s taken many medivac flights. That love multiplies at the airshow when the pilots give him hugs and hi-fives, making him feel like he belongs.
Allen, Thomas’ dad: “He loved being at the airshow.”
Photo courtesy of wish family
Melissa, 5, leukemia, I wish to have a playset in my backyard (Greater Los Angeles)
Melissa’s family has known a time before Melissa was sick, a time where she played outdoors in parks, spontaneous and carefree. The community joins forces to build Melissa a playset, bringing some of that positivity back to her life.
Melissa’s mom: “Her face was full of happiness. Melissa has always been caring and playful, but after getting sick she seemed to have lost a bit of herself. Now, thanks to the playset, she gets out of the house more, spends more time playing, and is very joyful.”
Jaxston, 6, nervous system disorder, I wish to have a family reunion (Hawaii)
Family has been an important part of Jaxston’s life since birth, when his mother began caring for him and flying with him from Kauai to Oahu for treatments. For his wish, all Jaxston wanted was to spend quality time with his family on Maui, relaxing in the sunshine together.
Jacquelyn, Jaxston’s mom: “I’ll always remember seeing Jaxston Drai and his cousins having a blast at the Maui Ocean Center and every place we went. Jaxston’s favorite part was just being with his cousins experiencing a new place with them, but most importantly, it reminded us to NEVER LOSE HOPE.”
Sierra, 7, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I wish to be a police officer (Alaska and Washington)
Sierra has relied heavily upon others for chemotherapy and radiation, so she decides to use her wish to give back to the community. During her time as a police officer, she saves the town from a robber and receives an official badge for her excellent work.
Michelle, Sierra’s mom: “I still don’t know how to say thank you to all the people that were a part of the day. It really amazed me how many people were there and how many people came out with their hearts.”
Photo courtesy of Lindsay Powell Photography
Inevitably, wish kids lose a sense of normality when they are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. But despite what they may lose, they do gain one thing: a tight-knit wish community.
This blog post is Part 1 of an ongoing series that celebrates the uniqueness of each child in the larger wish kid community.