At 17, Alexander of Lacey, just outside of Olympia, WA, was a high school junior, into space science, and helped out as a teacher’s aide.
Then he came down with strep throat and over the next seven months experienced fatigue, recurring numbness in his lip, and pain in his jaw, scalp and legs. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was happening. Alex’s vision in his right eye deteriorated and part of his tongue became swollen. He made a return visit to his pediatrician. The day after, Alex was at Seattle Children’s Hospital asking his parents, “What does hematology/oncology mean?”
Alex was diagnosed with advanced end-stage leukemia and given a 10 percent chance of survival. He credits his doctors with saving his life and Make-A-Wish for positively influencing him. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my wish,” says Alex, now 34, and an IT infrastructure engineer with General Motors.
Despite receiving daunting odds, Alex chose treatment and his body responded quickly. He underwent chemotherapy for eight-and-a-half months and found out he would be granted his wish to design his own computer. Alex and his friends pored over computing magazines. He designed a computer with a flat-screen monitor (boxy monitors were the norm in 2000) and then-unheard of amounts of processing power.
But more significantly, the wish launched Alex on his journey. “I learned computing on a level I never had before,” says Alex. “That led me into a career in IT administration. I’m so thankful for Make-A-Wish.”
Alex and his family are also very grateful for his wish volunteers, Jennifer and Shane Klingenstein. “My mom said she was so thankful for Jennifer and Shane because they understood what we were going through,” says Alex. “They understood our stress and only wanted to make us smile.”
Alex adds, “There isn’t a better way to celebrate life than to give to Make-A-Wish. You can celebrate your life and the life of a child who is facing a monstrous burden at a young age.”