Twelve-year-old Peter stood tentatively at the pool’s edge. He breathed in the warm, fragrant Hawaiian air and looked out over the sparkly water in front of him.
It had been nine months since Peter had even dreamed of going swimming; nine months since his world came crashing down around him when doctors diagnosed him with Ewing’s sarcoma.
In that time, Peter went through 14 rounds of chemotherapy, 30 radiation treatments and two surgeries to tackle and remove an aggressive tumor on his left pelvis.
For those nine months, the days were filled with uncertainty, fear and pain.
But then, you gave Peter something joyful to look forward to when you helped to grant his wish.
When a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope. What’s more, research shows that wishes give kids the edge they need to conquer their illnesses.
“I specifically remember going to treatment and knowing that if I could get through it, I had my wish at the end,” Peter said. “It gave me something hopeful to hold on to.”
Peter’s wish came at the perfect time for his family. It was right at the end of treatment and gave them an opportunity to put cancer in the rearview mirror.
“We were still in the cancer zone, still adjusting to life not going to the hospital every day,” Peter said.
A family trip to a tropical paradise was just what they needed.
“My family was so close and supportive during treatment,” Peter said. “I know it was tough on my parents, my sisters and me. My wish reunited us, put us at ease and reminded us of the good things in life.”
“Peter and his family spent a lot of time at Children’s—a lot of time wrapped in worry and in prayer,” said wish-granting volunteer Ken Kieffer. “Peter intuitively knew how to bring his medical journey to a happy ending.”
That’s how Peter found himself at the pool’s edge, dipping in one toe to test the water.
His Hickman line had just come out days before. Until that was removed, Peter couldn’t have gone in the water. Getting that out was the final step for Peter to be freed from his treatment.
“Standing by the edge of the water, I was nervous,” he said. “Then I just I jumped in and popped right up. My parents said they’d never forget the smile on my face!”
And it didn’t end there. Peter and his family swam with dolphins. They went to a luau on Christmas day. And his wish even included some old-fashioned pranks.
“Peter set off the radio alarm clock in his sisters’ room to go off—very loudly—at 3 a.m. one fine morning,” Ken said. “It was his own way of getting back to ‘normal.’”
And Peter’s wish helped set the tone for his future.
Unfortunately, cancer often leaves behind some reminders of its past. Peter recently had a reconstructive surgery on his pelvis and has been home-bound for recovery. It’s interrupted his studies, where he’s focusing on psychology and pre-med.
You see, Peter dreams of pursuing a career where he can help kids with cancer. He’s currently leaning toward orthopedic pediatric oncology so he can work with kids who are facing the same thing he did.
And one of the things he’s most looking forward to? Referring kids for wishes.
“Having Make-A-Wish to tell a family about, to get excited with them and see the smiles on their faces would be a great part of the job,” he said. “Having things to be hopeful about changes your whole mindset about cancer and that has a huge impact on patient outcomes.”
Every day, at least one child in Alaska and Washington is diagnosed with a critical illness, and we are not able to grant all of their wishes. Can you help make sure all local kids have all the tools they need to overcome their illnesses?