Imagine facing a moment so profound it literally stops you in your tracks. Everything you’ve planned, all of your dreams suddenly go on hold.
That’s what happened the first day Reed’s parents noticed something was wrong. Reed was having trouble going to the bathroom and complained of pain. Almost instantly, their days took on a whirlwind of appointments, tests, scans and diagnostics that took the family from urgent care to the pediatrician’s office to the emergency room—all in a quest to find answers.
After several days spent chasing various ideas, Reed and his family were sent to imaging to have an ultrasound.
“I remember looking at the ultrasound tech, knowing she knew what was going on but couldn’t say anything,” said Reed’s mom, Jenn.
After more agonizing waiting, Jenn and her family were met by an oncologist. Reed had a tumor. Fortunately, it hadn’t metastasized to the rest of his body.
“I remember feeling so relieved that we had a diagnosis so we could do something about it,” said Jenn. The days of searching for answers had taken their toll: “We were so tired and stressed out.”
Jenn credits her background in dentistry to helping her keep a level-head during Reed’s diagnosis and treatment. “From my education, I learned a lot about the body,” she said. “It can be very scary for people who don’t know anything about the body and how it works … I could understand and explain a lot of what was going on.”
Reed’s treatment and care was so urgent and consuming that Jenn chose to leave the dentistry job she enjoyed. Her roles suddenly flipped: from care provider to patient.
Suddenly, Jenn’s days were filled with surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, feeding tubes and blood transfusions.
It was during Reed’s first blood transfusion that his social worker brought up Make-A-Wish. For the first time since his whirlwind diagnosis, Reed had something to look forward to with excitement and anticipation.
“There’s a lot of stress and your world feels like it’s turned upside down,” said Jenn. “To look at the future is really scary, especially when there is a lot of pain and a lot of tears. A wish is this amazing thing they’ve always wanted, and it helps families get through the unknowns of treatment.”
Almost instantly, Reed and his family knew they wanted to visit his favorite theme park. Reed had a fascination with dinosaurs and superheroes … and where else do you find both in the same place?
Reed was scheduled to finish treatment just a month before his wish. Around the same time, Jenn began to think about returning to work. She found an opportunity to ease back in to dentistry through a colleague from school who had been following Jenn’s story.
“I had been so involved in Reed’s care that I hadn’t thought about dentistry for a bit,” she said. “I was so nervous to go back!”
But Jenn would only start on one condition: she needed a week off for Reed’s wish trip!
For one week, Reed, Jenn and the entire family stayed at Give Kids the World. They explored the parks, splashed in the pools and rode all the rides. They dug for dinosaur bones and ate ice cream for breakfast. For one week, their family focused on spending time together as a family; something that had been few and far-between during months of treatment.
It was the picture-perfect way to close the chapter on Reed’s treatment and look toward the future.
Now, Jenn is back to work and Reed is taking in every moment of summer spent outside of the hospital, thanks to you!