Jessica and her family arrived at PETCO expecting to meet her Make-A-Wish volunteers and talk about her wish, just like any other meeting. But when they got there, something was different.
“I’m in the Army, so I’m always early,” explained Jessica’s stepmom, Rebecca. “I saw her volunteers, and then I saw Make-A-Wish balloons. I knew something was going on!”
On this special day, Jessica’s wish was about to come true.
From clue to clue, Jessica traveled around PETCO, excitement and anticipation growing with each passing second. When she got to the last clue, the manager came out – and Jessica met her new ferret, Rocket, for the first time.
Jessica’s wish started more than 2,000 miles away in Georgia when she was referred to Make-A-Wish. Because of her treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancerous tumor, Jessica had to wait to get her wish.
When her family moved to Washington state for Rebecca’s job, Jessica learned her wish would come true. “When she found out she was just thrilled, she didn’t believe it at first!” said Rebecca.
The move was Jessica’s first big one and took her far away from the life she knew. “Her wish has helped this feel like home for Jessica,” said Rebecca.
And Rocket has also been an important part of Jessica’s treatment.
While done with chemo for now, Jessica’s type of cancer is very aggressive, with nearly a 95 percent chance of reoccurrence. She has to get scans and preventive shots, and Jessica is part of a clinical trial that takes her to Texas once a month.
“Rocket helps her to be more upbeat. It gets tiresome for Jessica to be poked and prodded all the time,” said Rebecca.
Because of her treatment, Jessica can’t always go out and do things. “She would sometimes get a little bored,” said Rebecca. But with Rocket, “now she has something to do at home; someone to play with other than her little brother.”
Jessica and her family are adjusting well to the new family member, with the exception of one. “Our Great Dane is a timid thing … he’s afraid of Rocket, but Rocket doesn’t seem to notice!”
And Rocket has helped Jessica take on a whole new sense of responsibility. “This is her job to take care of her new baby,” said Rebecca. “She is being very responsible, taking care of Rocket’s food, water, everything like that.”
Special thanks to an anonymous donor, wish-granting volunteers Alejandra Llamas and Emily Lukken, and to PETCO.