“ I used to think wishes were for birthday candles and shooting stars, but now I know they can have real power.”
Until I was 10½ years old, the only time I ever made a wish was when I blew out my birthday candles, saw a shooting star, or found a loose eyelash on my cheek. The silliest one was blowing out my birthday candles wishing for a pony when I don’t even like horses. Wishes didn’t hold any real meaning so it was easy to waste them on trivial dreams that would never come true. Then things changed.
In October 2014, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The chemo the doctors were using to treat my cancer had to be administered in the hospital, so beginning in November of that year I spent three of every five weeks in the hospital. I didn’t have to worry about what I had missed in school; I wasn’t going back for the rest of the year.
People are incredibly kind to kids in the hospital. Friends brought me all kinds of gifts to help pass the time. It is always fun to get presents, but it is also kind of uncomfortable and scary to get so much when you are sick. It makes you feel like maybe you aren’t going to get better. The scariest gift I got was a wish.
On one of my first long hospital stays, a social worker came in to say I was eligible for a Make-A-Wish. I had heard of Make-A-Wish and always thought it was for dying kids, so I wasn’t too happy to be offered one. After reading the brochure, we learned wishes are for any child facing a critical illness, and the purpose is to give them something to look forward to that feels like normal life and not hospitals, and being sick.
By Spring 2015, I had my third five-week cycle of chemo and had the tumor removed and a donor bone inserted in my leg. I couldn’t walk, wasn’t going to school, and generally felt crummy all the time. One of the few things that could take my mind off of everything was television, and my favorite show was Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team. After binge watching several seasons, I knew what my wish would be.
My wish was to meet the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. This wish was entirely different than the birthday cake ones; this wish had power.
For the first time since I was diagnosed, my family and I were going on a trip together no hospitals, doctors, nurses or appointments. Just fun. Meeting the cheerleaders was amazing. They could not have been nicer, and they didn’t act like I was sick or that they felt sorry for me. Suddenly I didn’t feel as sick and for the rest of the weekend I let myself try some “normal” things that I hadn’t done in a while.
When we got home I still had more treatment ahead of me, but because of my wish I also knew that I could and would feel normal again...which is way better than any pony.
As much as my wish week showed me that wishes have power, what has happened since has been even more powerful. Since my trip I have volunteered as a youth ambassador for Make-A-Wish. I’ve spoken at events, emceed their gala, appeared in ads and met other wish kids that I have a lot in common with. Each time I get the chance to tell my wish story, I gain a little bit more power back from the disease that took so much from me. I always end my talk by saying that cancer will always be a part of my story, but because of a wish, it isn’t my whole story.