It was February 28; a Friday. And to most, this day would seem a pretty unremarkable. But for Sophia’s family, this was the day that their lives took an unimaginable turn.
This was the day that Sophia was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that is most commonly found in children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20 years old. She stayed in the ICU for three weeks, had surgery in June, and spent the next eight months in chemo.
Somewhere along this journey, Sophia’s family heard about Make-A-Wish®.
“When our social worker told our family about Make-A-Wish, we weren’t thinking about anything,” said Sophia’s dad, Manuel. “We were only thinking about surviving and what we’re facing at that moment.”
As Sophia’s treatment progressed, the idea of a wish became more and more real to the family.
“Prior to her diagnosis, Sophia had heard about Disney Cruise Line®, and the idea really stuck with her,” Manuel said.
And just like that, a wish was born.
"We thank God for the healing and the provision that He gave us during Sophia’s treatment,” said Manuel, “and for the supporters of Make-A-Wish for fulfilling the wish of our daughter.”
Sophia and her family flew to Florida, where they boarded a ship bound for the Bahamas.
On board, Sophia had plenty to do. She met Captain Mickey, dressed up like a princess and watched a fireworks show, just to name a few.
One of her favorite attractions was the waterslide. Once she got on, it was almost impossible to get her off!
“She loved that slide,” said Manuel. “You could always tell when Sophia was on the waterslide; she would shout and be so noisy!”
Sophia was also able to play with kids her age, something she’d been unable to do with a weakened immune system. Her parents were able to go on a date, while Sophia played in the kids club, which they hadn’t done since she was admitted to the hospital. And the family was able to spend time together without the pokes and prods that come with a hospital visit.
“This memorable experience … has given us a refreshing break from months of being in the hospital and clinic,” said Sophia’s mom, Kathy.
Sophia’s wish trip ended in tears. She had so much fun that she wasn’t ready for her trip to end.
Yet Sophia’s journey isn’t over.
She finished chemo earlier this year, but still visits the doctor every three months for scans and tests. These visits will continue for the next four years, at least. The left side of Sophia’s heart was affected by chemo and she now sees a cardiologist, too.
But Sophia’s wish has given her hope, strength and joy that will stick with her forever.
“In every storm of life, there’s always that rainbow waiting. And for Sophia, that rainbow was her wish,” said Manuel. “It helped us to look on the brighter side of the situation and what we went through. It gave us a big break in completely new surroundings.”
Want to help make wishes come true for kids like Sophia? Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington is in need of volunteers in the South Sound, Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, Spokane, Anchorage and Fairbanks. For more information about volunteer opportunities, visit the Volunteer section on our website.
Special thanks to Adopt-A-Wish® sponsor QBE – North America, Disney Cruise Line®, and wish-granting volunteers Erica Ung and Allison Martin