What would you do if your greatest passion was suddenly taken from you? For Marri, this happened when she was a freshman in high school. This avid swimmer trained 3-4 hours a day. When she was in the water, Marri is at her happiest. “I feel free, relaxed, calm and happy,” she said.
It was this passion that led to Marri’s diagnosis.
She started to get fatigued. When her exhaustion grew, she knew something was wrong.
Doctors diagnosed Marri with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Suddenly, her list of “don’ts” seemingly outweighed what she could do.
“I wasn’t able to go to school,” Marri said. “I couldn’t participate in sports or extracurriculars, and not being able to go to school on top of that was a big shock.”
Instead of spending hours in the pool swimming laps, Marri spent hours in the hospital undergoing treatment. For about a week, doctors pumped her body with chemotherapy drugs. She’d have a little bit of rest, and another day of chemo. With five days to recover, she’d just start to feel better before going back to start the next round. Twelve weeks of chemotherapy treatment later, Marri started 28-days of radiation.
During it all, Marri had something to look forward to, thanks to you.
“My first day in the hospital, the social worker told me I qualified for Make-A-Wish,” Marri said. “They were there off the bat, and we started deciding right then and there what I wanted to do for my wish.”
That’s when wish-granting volunteer Cortney Bacon first met Marri.
“We could tell she really wasn’t feeling well from the treatment,” Cortney said. “I was so impressed by Marri and her family, and by the way she handled herself. She obviously was going through a lot but she smiled the whole time.”
Marri knew that she had an incredible opportunity with her wish.
She wrestled with the idea of meeting her favorite singer or taking a trip with her family. Finally, Marri decided she wanted to swim in the Great Barrier Reef.
“My wish was really motivational,” Marri said. “I had a lot of hope I would be able to go on my wish; it gave me something to look forward to even though I was struggling a lot.”
When a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope—helping children with critical illnesses see the impossible as possible. What’s more, research shows—and physicians agree—that a wish can help improve a child’s quality of life and produce better health outcomes.
“Marri wasn’t able to travel during her treatment, so we got to be creative to keep her excited,” said Cortney. “It was so fun to do that for her and let her know we were thinking of her, every step of the way.”
Finally, Marri and her family traveled to Australia.
Each year, 80 percent of kids make wishes that involve air travel, and we wouldn’t be able to fulfill those wishes without donated frequent flier miles. Can you help?
The highlight, for Marri, was being back in the water. But instead of laps in a pool, Marri explored corals, fish and the breathtaking beauty of one of the natural wonders of the world.
Now, with her treatment and wish in the rearview mirror, Marri is focused on her future.
“I’m so glad I chose a travel wish because I want to do travel nursing eventually,” said Marri. “I would love to go back to Australia and be a nurse there.”
Marri is studying nursing. She’s inspired by the nurses who helped her through treatment. “They made my experience in the hospital as fantastic as it could be,” she said.
And she’s excited about the possibility of referring other kids for wishes.
“It would be amazing to put a smile on someone’s face, even in the roughest of times,” Marri said.
“I think Marri was able to see and understand cancer, being in the hospital, and all of the people around her who helped,” said Cortney. “It is so sweet that she is wanting to go into nursing and provide others with that support she had.”
“All of the support and love I had from people I knew—and people I didn’t know—is one of the things that helped me get through treatment,” said Marri. “I know that so many people were supporting me through Make-A-Wish.”