Ally’s medical journey started in 2011 while on a family vacation. She began experiencing small seizures. One month after the vacation, Ally was diagnosed with Limbic Encaphalitis, a condition characterized by inflammation in the brain. We spent the next four years in and out of the hospital, and saw lots of doctors.
In 2015 our world changed again. Ally began to have little energy and was losing weight and became very pale. She was then diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histocytosis (LCH). LCH is a disease that attacks your bones. When we went to see the oncologist for Ally’s first treatment for LCH, the doctor informed us that Ally’s cells were testing positive for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer.
I had never really heard about Make-A-Wish® until we met with the oncologist after Ally’s new diagnosis. When the social worker came in and started talking about Make-A-Wish my husband and I got a little upset because we thought Make-A-Wish was only for kids who were terminally ill. This was when we learned that Make-A-Wish is for children who have life threatening medical conditions. Ally then was referred to Make-A-Wish Northeastern California and Northern Nevada, and the whole magical experience began.
What surprised me the most about the wish-making process was how everything revolved around Ally. The staff, also known as “Wish Fairies”, really wanted to make sure that Ally had a once in a lifetime experience. They listened to all of her creative wish ideas and asked lots of questions to help make the right one happen. They asked her to make four wishes; to go, have, be and meet. Throughout the process she determined that her number one wish was to go to Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii because she wanted to collect seashells on the beach and swim in the ocean.
Make-A-Wish granted Ally’s wish in September 2016. They sent our whole family to Disney Aulani! Ally’s favorite parts of the trip were going down the water slide at the hotel, getting a Henna tattoo, swimming in the ocean, and meeting Stitch from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. I think one of my favorite parts was when Ally walked outside our house and saw the limo waiting to take us to the airport. Ally likes to say she is famous because people are always asking her how she is doing, but riding in a limo made it official. Another favorite part of Ally’s wish was the first time she got into the water. Ally can’t handle cold temperatures, so for her to be able to swim in the ocean and all of the swimming pools without getting cold was amazing.
One part of the trip that I will never forget was pulling up to the Aulani hotel. That was when it hit me we were there. This trip is something we could not afford to do with our family and it was amazing to have an experience like this together.
Make-A-Wish helped my family experience something that we could never imagine: a stress free family vacation. We didn’t have to worry about any of the details, and we could just be together having fun which we haven’t done in a very long time. An illness like Encephalitis or cancer affects the entire family and Ally’s wish was something that we all were able to enjoy.
My family and I look forward to staying connected with Make-A-Wish. Between the amazing staff and other families we have met, I can’t imagine not staying a part of the Make-A-Wish family. When Ally was diagnosed with cancer I said, “We are now part of a club we didn’t ask to belong to.” When we heard about Make-A-Wish we were able to be part of a group of families and supporters that I am very thankful for and so glad we met.