At the beginning of 2011, my daughter, Abby, had been increasingly sick. She was only eight years old at the time.
Abby had been running low-grade fevers, experiencing leg pain, and was increasingly more and more tired. I was taking her to the doctors weekly.
On March 11, 2011, she was diagnosed with leukemia. To say my husband and I were devastated is a complete understatement.
The day our lives changed
That day changed our lives forever.
We began two and a half years of doctor’s appointments, chemo treatments, planned and unplanned hospital stays and ER visits.
We spent many days and nights as a family separated — with half of us in the hospital, and half of us at home. Our lives revolved around blood counts, immune system levels, and medication spreadsheets. We learned more about IV’s, medicine dosages, and keeping a bald head warm than we ever wanted to learn.
But, during these treatment years, we also learned more important things as a family.
The things we learned
We learned, that statistics don’t mean a thing when it comes to your child. We learned that kids never give up, and neither do their parents.
We learned that the doctors and nurses have hearts of gold. And, we learned there are unbelievably generous people in the world.
We also learned about amazing organizations like Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes for children who confront life-threatening medical conditions.
These wishes are not a last or dying wish, but an endorsement and gift of life. A wish empowers children, strengthens family, and enriches the community.
When my daughter was asked what she wanted to do for her Make-A-Wish trip, she searched all kinds of places. She knew she wanted to go on a trip, especially since we had not been allowed to travel during treatment.
She finally decided she wanted to go to Atlantis to swim with dolphins.
I recently asked my son, Andy, what the trip meant to him. He looked at me with his 10-year-old innocence and said, “Joy. The trip meant you to me, Mom. We got to laugh together, we got to smile, we got to BE together.”
I asked Abby what the trip meant to her, and she said, “Family time. We got to be together.”
I asked my husband what the trip meant to him, and he said, “For me, it was a celebration of life, of Abby beating cancer.”
The impact of a wish
This trip was more then just a vacation. It was a time for our family, the four of us, to reconnect without the worry of treatment, medicine dosages, or blood transfusions. This was a time for us, and only us, all together, which was something we had not been able to do much during treatment.
We thank Make-A-Wish for giving us the opportunity to bond, to be together, to enjoy each other, and to build our hope, strength, and joy as a family.
Thanks to the donations of amazing people and companies, my family got to BE TOGETHER on an amazing trip that was my daughter’s dream. We go to BE together without having to plan it or worry about anything. I can’t even begin to express how much we continue to appreciate the experience we were given.
By the way, I am happy to say, that my daughter is in remission. This coming March will be five years since her diagnosis.