I was eligible for a wish due to my diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia at the age of two years old. My wish was to go to Walt Disney World with my family. My wish took place May 19th-24th of 1999. My mom asked that we go around this time because my birthday is May 20th, and she wanted to have the opportunity to celebrate my third birthday at Disney. It was also the perfect time for us to go because it was a time when my chemotherapy was less intense.
My wish to go to Disney was the perfect wish for me in the midst of my diagnosis. Disney was my safe haven, my companion, and the place that made me feel like I belonged. Disney movies are what helped me get through my diagnosis. I was secluded to either my house or the hospital. When I was stuck in these places, Disney movies were my happy escape. They brought me joy and made me feel better. My mom knew how much I loved Disney so when she explained to me what Disney World was, I was over the moon imagining what it would be like to see it firsthand. When I found out my one-true wish was coming true I sang at the top of my lungs “I’m going to Disney!” I was so excited to finally experience the magic that I had been watching on repeat, day in and day out during my treatment. My happy escape from the hospital and the pokes was real, and Make-A-Wish helped me get there.
When you are given a wish, the experience can bring strength to not only the child, but to the family as well. As a wish recipient I agree 100% with that statement. Make-A-Wish gave us a beautiful and liberating gift that we truly needed. My wish to go to Disney gave us normalcy. My wish gave us something to look forward to. It allowed my family, especially my mom, to relax and enjoy our time together. We were given the opportunity to escape the hospital and focus on the good - on making happy memories as a family. It impacted me because I had already been through so much and I still had a long fight ahead of me. I asked my mom, “Are there pokes and spinal taps at Disney?” When she told me no, I couldn’t wait to be there. Spinal tap days were my worst, I dreaded them and the pain they brought. Pokes were not my friend. I was excited to know that for a brief amount of time, no one would be poking and prodding me. I could be happy and carefree. I could just focus on being a kid.
Make-A-Wish works hard to make sure that life-changing wishes are granted. Make-A-Wish definitely impacted my family’s life and helped us through the unexpected journey my cancer diagnosis had put us on. For me, the biggest impact of my wish was how amazing and huge it was for my sister. Siblings of kids with critical illnesses deal with a lot. They feel neglected, not important, helpless, and sometimes angry with the way their life is unfolding. While the needs of the sick child are important, the sibling needs love and support, too. They can be easily lost in the midst of the chaos and it breaks my heart to say that because of my diagnosis, my sister was lost for a while. My sister had a hard time while I was going through treatment because she felt unloved, unimportant. That definitely was not the case, but the environment she was growing up in made it easy for her to believe that was true. Make-A-Wish allowed my sister to be a part of this amazing trip where she was able to have fun and feel important too. She received the same special treatment that I did, she was able to attend all the fun activities put on at Disney, and she was allowed special time with my parents because the hectic and demanding environment of the hospital was not there. She really needed the love and support that the wish provided and I’m grateful that my wish was able to give her that.
Pure bliss. That is what my wish made me feel. For a week I was on cloud 9. I was meeting all the characters that I loved to watch in the hospital or confined to the house. The characters that made me laugh and feel like I wasn’t just a sick little girl were standing right in front of me! Hugging me, taking pictures with me, signing my autograph book! Snow White kissed me on the cheek, leaving a lipstick imprint. I was so proud of the lipstick kiss mark on my cheek that I wouldn’t wash my face for 3 days. All these experiences made me feel so happy and important that I forgot about the pokes and the spinal taps. It was surreal. I was on a constant high of excitement and pure bliss, in the happiest place I could be. In Disney, I wasn’t sick, I was just Bailey. All thanks to Make-A-Wish and its supporters.
Here I am, 17 years out of treatment, happy, healthy, and currently interning for Make-A-Wish® Missouri on the mission delivery team. What a blessing it is to say that I am here. I am healthy. I have the ability to volunteer my time and experience to the organization that gave me so much happiness as a child. I am in the midst of the magic and the pure bliss that was created for me. I am experiencing it being given to so many other deserving children. For everyone who supports the mission of Make-A-Wish, thank you from the bottom of my heart.