The Wish Children

When watching Kyle while he’s playing hockey or polishing off some of his favourite chocolate treats one would never suspect the incredible amount of extra work he needs to do, every day, just to stay healthy.  Kyle is living with Cystic Fibrosis, a severe, progressive disease that primarily affects his lungs and digestive system. 

Kyle’s parents, Rachel and Gary, shared their feelings of mourning and sadness as they realized the impacts of a lifelong illness.  The burden on Kyle and the entire family is immense; however their resolve to fight continues to carry them through their days.  Days of not being sick, fewer treatments, or those significant milestone celebrations and holidays are all extra special in the Miller home.

The duality of having been granted a wish is not lost on Rachel and Gary.  The sadness of Kyle’s illness fades in the background as they focus on the joy they all feel knowing that they have some happy times to look forward to as a family.  While Kyle has yet to choose what his wish will be, his family is incredibly excited for the opportunity to honour Kyle and all of his hard work. 

The anticipation of choosing a wish and being able to give Kyle his time “in the lime light” is “so fun” for all of them.   The Children’s Wish Foundation agrees and is looking forward to hearing all about Kyle’s wish very soon. 

 

October 2012, Liam experienced fatigue and was taken to the clinic for a check-up. The blood work returned with a shocking diagnosis, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  “Life immediately changed and our world stopped,” described Rhonda, Liam’s mom, “we appreciate everything more … every moment together and never miss a chance to have fun as a family”.

A phone call arrived one day when Rhonda was driving Liam home from a treatment that Liam is to be granted a wish by the Children’s Wish Foundation. Liam was ecstatic, and over his long days of chemo treatments in clinics, he would talk about what he might want to do for his wish.

Liam tries to turn his experience with the illness to something positive for others. Ha has been raising awareness as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s School & Youth Honoured Hero.  Since the diagnosis, there has been over 100 trips to the hospital and 4 inpatient stays. Liam has gone through the heavy phase of chemotherapy treatments and id currently in the maintenance phase of is 3 years of treatments.

It has been a rough road for the whole family. His wish is an opportunity for them to get away from all and forget about their worries even just for a while. Liam has set his wish on going to Disney and is very excited about the trip. “We are looking forward to just watching our boys have fun,” Rhonda says.

 

 

 

For expecting parents, an eagerly anticipated ultrasound 20 weeks into a pregnancy is usually filled with the unique joy of first seeing the shapes and movements of their developing baby; counting fingers and toes, hiccups and heartbeats.  As this was their second pregnancy, Brian and Melissa had an idea of what to expect so they became concerned when this ultrasound began to take far too long.  Instead of seeing their baby and being sent on their way, a doctor was called in, they were told something was wrong with their baby’s heart, and they were rushed for more specialized testing.  “What was supposed to be a routine appointment turned into the scariest 8 hours of our lives and the beginning of an unforgettable journey.”

Melissa and Brian say that Liam, a happy and energetic 3 year old boy with big, warm, brown eyes and a toothy grin, is proof that miracles do happen.  At only 3 years old, Liam has already undergone 5 open heart surgeries to address his Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  HLHS is a complex and rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart, responsible for providing oxygen to the body, is critically underdeveloped. 

Liam loves people and experiencing new things, dancing to his favourite Top 40 tunes, playing with his family and Avengers Superheroes.  When the family found out that Liam’s wish of going to Disney was coming true, there was “a happy dance in the kitchen and ice cream sundaes for supper!” Brian and Melissa shared that anticipating their upcoming “magical, once in a lifetime trip” kept their spirits high prior to Liam’s fifth open heart surgery.  Celebrating Liam’s successes and focusing on time together as a family, not his diagnosis, is something that will be unforgettable for all of them.  The Avengers will soon have a new little superhero in their midst.

Meeting this little outgoing energetic guy for the first time, it’s hard to believe that Samuel was only 2 when he was diagnosed with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). “April 5, 2013…it is as vivid in our minds as if it was yesterday.  Two weeks prior Sam had taken a fall at daycare and stopped walking.  We took him to the IWK Emergency in case of a break or sprain; however x-rays showed nothing.  Not long after Sam’s appetite started to wane and he became lethargic.  We took him to our family doctor who referred us for bloodwork at the IWK.  It was after the bloodwork that they found “blasts” in his blood and immediately concluded Leukemia.  Cancer – a word no parent should ever hear about their child.  Shock and disbelief would be mild words for how we were feeling.  The reality of a new normal began sinking in a few days later, and a constant concern and worry for what our baby boy would have to go through to beat this disease began.”

“Sam has been a trooper since day #1!  Having been diagnosed at 2 years of age, treatment has become a normal part of Sam’s life – he does not remember life without it (it is his normal).  This wish will expose Sam to an entire world he has only known in stories and on TV.  He knows he’s going to see Mickey Mouse (and some other Pixar characters that he loves) and go on an airplane, but to really comprehend how amazing this is going to be will come as the date becomes closer.”

“Words cannot express how emotional it is to receive such a special gift, not only for Sam, but for his older brother (Max) and sister (Sophia) as well.  Amazing big siblings, Max and Sophia have sacrificed so much (special occasions, invitations from friends, vacations, attention from mom and dad, etc.) while Sam has gone through treatment.  The wish will be a fit for them as much as Sam.  As a family, we are all looking forward to a true “family vacation” without concern for temperatures, medications, possible infections and hospital visits.”

“We are so excited to see Sam’s reactions throughout the trip – from the airplane ride, to the resort, the Disney characters that he loves and the “surprises” that are coming his way.  In addition, it will be the first trip to Disney for Sam’s brother and sister as well – what a special experience for us all to have together!”

“Lastly, no one would ever trade the health of their child for a wish, regardless of what it is, but the fact that the Children’s Wish Foundation exists and does what it does for kids and families of the sick kids, is an absolutely incredible gift in of itself!”

 

It’s difficult to believe that this witty, country music loving young man with a striking sense of good humour suffers with daily, uncontrollable seizures.  William was diagnosed with Intractable Multifocal Epilepsy when he was 6 years old.  Despite multiple and various attempts at controlling William’s seizures, he continues to experience them with frightening regularity.  William’s mom, Kimberley, recalls the devastating impact of witnessing his first seizure and believing that he was about to die.  A lifetime of hospital visits has been rough on the entire family.

Most conversations with William take an eventual turn towards his captivating passion, country music; Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire being the undisputed favourites.  Country music’s biggest stars always find their way to Nashville so William’s wish, as country music’s biggest fan, is to visit Nashville, Tennessee and all things country.  Kimberley shared that William has missed out on a lot in his young life and has had to face an extraordinary amount of difficulty.  His severe seizure disorder has contributed to him being withdrawn and feeling isolated from his peers; he deserves the happiness that this very special wish can bring him.

Understanding that things aren’t always as they appear on the outside and learning to accept the struggles that come with the hand you have been dealt are hopes Kimberley has while experiencing this journey with William.  The family is excited to have William focusing on going to Nashville, instead of his illness, and having the chance to experience some down home country happiness in his life.   

Paisley’s mom, Chelsea will always remember September 27, 2014 in vivid detail.  Her otherwise healthy two-year old daughter had woken up with some blood in her diaper, something not terribly unusual to Chelsea or a cause for alarm.  Their IWK emergency room visit started off as routine but the doctors kept running more tests; a quick visit dragged on the entire day. 

 

Finally a team of doctors came to meet with Chelsea and she knew right away that the news wasn’t good.  Paisley had a large mass on her right kidney.  Chelsea will never forget the “horrible helpless feeling” when she was told that Paisley had Wilms tumor, a rare type of kidney cancer.  So this tiny, two-year old, Barbie loving, little girl began her fight but she was armed with the knowledge that 90% of Wilms tumor cases don’t recur after treatment.

 

Paisley’s family was in shock when in September 2015 Paisley became that 10% chance of relapse and the cancer was found in her right lung.  The close-knit family embarked on a heart wrenching journey of weeks upon weeks in the hospital, surgeries, radiation treatment, hair loss, and a little girl who “just wasn’t herself at all”.  At only three years old, Paisley was battling cancer for the second time in her life. 

 

There was a “light at the end of the tunnel” for Paisley though, something that put a smile on her face as she was suffering through her difficult treatments.  Chelsea would talk to Paisley about going to Disney to meet all of her favourite princesses and a visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique as motivation to help them all get through yet another day in the hospital.  The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Nova Scotia Chapter is thrilled to be able to help this bright, blue-eyed, future doctor (“because they saved my life”) turn “this horrible time… into something magical”.  Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, Paisley. May all of your wishes come true!

I would like you to know that Phoebe is a lovely, happy child and I cannot express how very proud I am to be her Mom. She doesn’t understand what exactly is happening nor does she know about the eventual outcome.  She is such a sweet girl and I want you to know how very deserving she is. Phoebe’s disease is heart wrenching for all who know her, but it is especially hard for her. She is struggling with the loss of her mobility and speech. Despite this, she is constantly smiling and looking forward to whatever each day brings her.

Phoebe’s wish is to go to Disneyland.  As we proceed through the decline in her abilities I am hoping we can use this wish to be a cheer up for her.  This will be important in keeping her spirits up as the journey gets harder and near its end.  It’s a special amazing trip together that we will always remember.  Even when Phoebe is really ill and cannot get around much anymore we will have these memories, pictures and memorabilia to reminisce about.” said Phoebe’s Mom.

The Children’s Wish Foundation –Nova Scotia Chapter is so pleased to be able to provide an opportunity for happy memories to be made as Phoebe explores the world of Disney and its princesses.

Thirteen-year-old Hannah Eisnor chooses not to focus on the more than 45 surgeries and medical procedures she has gone through in her short life.  This people-loving teen wants others to know that “I love my life.”

Hannah was airlifted to the IWK hospital immediately after she was born as doctors noticed abnormalities.  Her parents, Cindy and David were “in shock” for the first few weeks as they struggled to understand what was happening with their newborn daughter. Hannah has VATER Association, a rare condition that affects her bowels, kidney, heart, spine, vision, hearing, and her right arm and hand.  “In between (hospital stays and surgeries) we try to make the best life for her possible… each stage she goes through offers more surprises.”  Hannah will require lifelong treatments and is at high risk of sudden death due to the complicated nature of her condition.  Despite Hannah’s lengthy list of concerns she continues to find joy in dancing. 

 

Hannah “almost jumped through the floor” when she found out that her perfectly fitting wish of meeting the cast of “The Next Step”, a TV dance series, would be granted by Children’s Wish.  “The cast inspire me to keep going and not give up.”  Her parents shared that this “huge gift” gives Hannah something positive to focus on; they can’t wait to see the priceless joy on Hannah’s face when she gets to meet her idols

The Children’s Wish Foundation, Nova Scotia Chapter, is thrilled to be able to offer this dancing teen an opportunity to show off some dance moves to the people who motivate her to keep chasing her dreams.  

Joshua Prager’s mom, Jennifer, thought Joshua may have had a cracked rib and a touch of the flu when she took him to the IWK hospital.  Instead, Joshua was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare, extremely fast growing cancer of the immune system.   Jennifer was told that she most likely would have lost him if she had waited another day or two before bringing him to the hospital.  Thirteen-year-old Joshua had to leave the joys of jumping on his backyard trampoline and cuddling his four cats to face intensive chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and the frightening complications associated with fighting for his life.

 

When asked to describe himself Joshua shared that he is “very interested in politics and world issues.”  Joshua had a map of the world that his Air Cadet group gave him pinned up in his hospital room during his treatments.  This map was a source of excellent distraction as conversations of where Joshua would and wouldn’t like to travel flowed freely. 

It’s wonderfully fitting that Joshua has decided on travelling as his most heartfelt wish, which will be granted by The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Nova Scotia Chapter.

Jennifer can’t wait for Joshua to have the chance to “experience new things and see new sights”, something “he so deserves”.  The Nova Scotia Chapter is eagerly waiting to hear about Joshua’s destination choice and can’t wait to wish him and his family bon voyage!

 Little Gavin was only 3 years old and could barely pronounce Stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma when he was diagnosed a year ago.

The day his parents Jacky and Trevor received news of his diagnosis was the longest and scariest day of their lives.

This Windsor, NS family has learned to love and appreciate every day they have together They were thrilled to learn that Gavin’s wish to visit Disney World would be granted. He’s so excited to go and meet Mickey Mouse and Goofy. He loves to play with his 7 year old older sister Gabrielle, who is very excited as well to be going to Disney

Treatment has been long and difficult, and this time away will help the family to regroup and refocus on their love and joy, instead of disease and chemotherapy.

 

 

 

 

“I believe it’s important to put out as much love into the universe as you can and one day when you need it most it will come back to you;” something Lana, Jax’s mom, says proved to be true for her son.

It has been a heart wrenching, exhausting journey for 10-year-old Jax and his family. Jax has been incredibly ill since the age of 2, and has endured countless tests, numerous surgeries, and extended hospital stays, at both the IWK and Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital, with no diagnosis.

The pain, confusion, and sadness stretched on for years. Despite Jax’s struggles, at only 6 years old he raised over $1000 selling lemonade and treats for a Children’s Wish team event sponsoring another wish child who was the same age as him. Neither Jax nor Lana ever thought that he would be a wish child himself one day in the future.

Jax was only recently diagnosed with Dysautonomia, a collection of medical conditions that cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System which controls the "automatic" functions of the body, such as heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and temperature control. Jax requires constant medications and close monitoring, specifically of his blood circulation, and lives at high risk of his system failing him at any time. Jax’s diagnosis was a “full circle moment” as the bittersweet information now made him eligible for a very special wish of his own.

In true Jax style, he continues to give back to others by sharing his story with friends and speaking to different classes at school, letting others know that it’s okay to talk about being sick.

Jax is long overdue for a holiday after all of his years of hard work and The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Nova Scotia Chapter, is very pleased to be able to grant Jax his wish of flying to Hawaii where he can walk on sandy beaches and play with friendly dolphins. Happy travels, Jax, and Aloha!