Eighteen-year-old wish recipient Katie recently started an internship with Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. This story was written just days before she passed away from her long and brave battle with cancer. We are honored that Katie wanted to spend some of her last precious days with us, helping other children. Our hearts go out to her family and friends. This is our tribute to her. Here’s her story, told through her eyes.
My favorite quote comes from Shakespeare: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” I think it suits me and my life.
Three years ago, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer. Less than a week after my 15th birthday, I found out. Almost immediately, I flew with my family to Seattle for treatment where I would stay for the next 14 months as I underwent operations and chemotherapy.
Around my Sweet 16, I found out the cancer had returned. Since that time, I’ve undergone five lung surgeries and four major leg surgeries.
Despite the cancer, I know I always need to be positive. It’s important to me.
It has been a rough few years, but my friends and family have been really great, and having a good support system goes a long way. Also, my time in Seattle made me a huge Seahawks fan. Russell Wilson visited the hospital, and the Sea Gals and Blue Thunder drumline came to the Ronald McDonald House, where we lived when not at the hospital.
About a year into treatment, I was told I would receive a wish from Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. I remember thinking about that wish while in the hospital, and looking forward to better times.
My wish was to go to Florida to visit all the theme parks, especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I went on the vacation of my dreams with my parents and one of my best friends, Sydney. We didn’t plan a thing. We just packed our bags and got on the plane and Make-A-Wish took care of everything else. We were VIPs even before we got off the ground. Alaska Airlines gave me a tour of the cockpit and we received lots of special treatment—fast track passes into the parks, free movies and snacks on the airplane. Hogwarts did not disappoint!
My wish may have only been a week, but it left me with a lasting desire to do more for others.
Last fall, my condition got to the point where I wasn’t able to go to school anymore, but I still wanted to use my time productively and help out as much as I could. That’s why I decided to become an intern at Make-A-Wish.
I received something cool from Make-A-Wish. Now I can help pay that forward to other kids.
What do I love most about wishes? I love how flexible they are. Kids can be creative and pick what they want. Having been on the receiving side of a wish, it’s cool now to see what happens with all the planning. I love putting wishes together—reserving rental cars, booking plane tickets, and writing itineraries. I get to decorate each wish packet special for the wish kid.
Treatment really isn’t fun, and it feels great to know that I’m helping out in a place that maybe can’t make treatment better, but gives kids something to look forward to once they get to the end of treatment.
I love helping make a kid’s dream come true!