Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth was your typical teenager, until February, 2012, when she was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma, a form of cancer. Elizabeth’s step-mom, Jacey, described her daughter’s cancer treatment as often both treacherous and frightening.
So, when Elizabeth, now 17, was given the opportunity to experience a wish through Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington, she decided to take her mind off treatments and focus on her one most heartfelt wish: to swim with dolphins in Hawaii!
However, Elizabeth’s trip was postponed because of her treatment, including when she spent three weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit. “Elizabeth was fighting so hard and in so much pain for so long,” Jacey remembered.
But Jacey saw how the excitement of Elizabeth’s wish helped give her strength to keep pushing forward during the darkest of times. “Wishes give children something spectacular to look forward to when all they have in front of them are surgeries, hospitals, needles and medicine that make them sick,” she said.
At last, Elizabeth was healthy enough to experience her wish, which turned out to be just the medicine her family needed to get back to “normal.” The festivities began before she even landed in Hawaii, as the Alaska Airlines’ crew surprised Elizabeth with a Valentines’ Day party on the plane to kick-off her wish. One of Jacey’s favorite parts of the wish experience was just being treated like royalty. “It truly pumped up our confidence and overall attitude about all of the treatments,” she said.
Today, Elizabeth and Jacey have been paying her wish forward to help other local children still waiting for their wishes. They help by fundraising at Spokane events, representing Make-A-Wish in Spokane media interviews and even sharing Elizabeth’s story during the Wishes in Flight® airline mileage drive with KHQ, KNDU and KNDO. Elizabeth still talks about her trip often and plans to move to Hawaii after graduating from college.
Special Thanks: Wish-granting volunteers April Brogan and Allison Andrus, Alaska Airlines, Make-A-Wish Hawaii, Avis, Sheraton Waikiki, Applebee’s, Sea Life Park, Navatek, Leis of Hawaii.