Like the start of a new calendar year, the beginning of a new school year is filled with hope and anticipation, giving you enough excitement to view the usual mundane routine through a set of fresh, eager eyes. Anna began her sophomore year of high school with high hopes. Then, without warning or preparation, Anna would have to leave her school and friends behind for the daunting future that awaited her.
A few months before her 16th birthday, Anna was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which is an aggressive form of blood cancer. In a span of 48 hours, Anna learned the life-altering news of her diagnosis and departed for Memphis where she would reside for the months to come.
“We were all in shock. We weren’t immediately hit by it; we went into autopilot. We arrived at the hospital and the doctors started discussing the 6 to 8-month treatment plan I would have, telling me I wouldn’t be able to leave during this time. Then it really hit us,” Anna said.
After being uprooted and settling into her new temporary home, a few noteworthy things happened:
Anna’s 16th birthday and the British Royal wedding.
“Being older, you do remember everything, but one of the greatest things about that is that I’ve been able to remember all of my doctors and made lasting relationships while I was there. I was able to be active in my treatment instead of just a little kid unaware of what’s happening.”
Her treatment wasn’t the only thing Anna was paying close attention to. “Whenever you’re receiving treatment, you don’t do much except sit and watch tv because you can’t do much else. My mom and I would watch the news and one of our favorites to follow was the Royal wedding.”
Anna finished chemotherapy last March and was able to return home in May. Then one summer day, Anna’s volunteer wish granters met with her to discuss Make-A-Wish.
Because of her fascination with the Royal wedding, her love for travel and her passion for history, Anna decided that her one-true wish was to go to London. Thinking it may be out of reach, Anna also came up with a few other choices.
Anna began her junior year of high school and her life was returning to normal, until one weekend in December. Anna was attending a school basketball tournament when she was surprised at halftime with a few gift boxes and a special announcement that her wish was coming true.
“They made the wish reveal really special. I had a princess crown which in hindsight now was a little bit of a clue,” Anna laughed.
Just before the holidays, Anna’s one-true wish became a reality.
Anna reflects on the trip, describing every day as full of a new adventure. Anna, unable to pinpoint a single favorite moment, shared her highlights instead.
From exclusive tours of the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, to tasting fish and chips for the first time to seeing Royal family memorabilia splattered in the tourists’ shops, Anna describes these snapshots as surreal.
“The power of a wish is incredible, and you never realize how important something is until you hear from the person it has impacted. So, let me say, thank you to everyone who donated or is involved and if you haven’t, please try and get involved. You’re really making a lasting impact on me and all the other kids at Make-A-Wish.”
Anna, now healthy and strong, ended the year with the same eagerness so characteristic of a new year—hopeful about the future she has waiting for her.