Interviews with wish kids have shown that a wish experience creates a positive thing to look forward to and can be a turning point for a child during their medical journey. Wish kid Bryce, 15, believes just the idea of his wish helped him during an incredibly difficult time in his life.
Two years ago, Bryce was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and immediately admitted to the hospital.
“Doctors told us Bryce couldn’t leave the facility for five months,” said his mom, Marilyn. “This type of leukemia doesn’t have a high rate of survival and it was a very scary time for us.”
“We found out my sister’s friend, Kerry, was a wish granter for Make-A-Wish Arizona,” said Marilyn. “At first, we were uneasy because we thought wishes were given only to terminally ill children. But Kerry helped ease our fears and surprised Bryce in hospital with the first good news we had heard in a while – Bryce was eligible for a wish.”
Marilyn told her son to think of a wish and not to tell anyone, so that it would be genuine and come from the heart. Inspired by a tradition from his childhood, Bryce wished – quite specifically – to eat a croissant under the Eiffel Tower.
“Every Friday morning in elementary school, my dad would make croissants for our family to eat together,” said Bryce. “We would pretend they were all the way from Paris and I always counted down the days until it was my favorite day of the week again. As I’ve gotten older, my sister has gone off to college and we don’t spend as much time together as a family, but this has always been a really special memory for me.”
“When Bryce first shared his wish, we were surprised. But I think it really shows how unique a wish can be to each child,” said Marilyn. “Bryce is a picky eater but he loves croissants. It was so touching for all of us to hear his wish and we could tell it really meant a lot to his dad.”
Bryce, who missed his sophomore year of high school due to his medical condition, started reading about Paris in between his online classes.
“On the bad days, my wish was one of the few things that kept me motivated,” said Bryce, who endured four rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. “I would tell my wish granters all the things I couldn’t wait to do on my wish trip and imagined myself sitting outside of a café in Paris instead of in a hospital room.”
As soon as Bryce was cleared to travel, he boarded a plane with his mom, dad and sister and arrived in the City of Lights.
“Our hotel was a block away from the Eiffel Tower!” said Bryce. “The minute I stepped out of the front door, I could see it, which was amazing. It was so beautiful.”
Bryce and his family went straight to the Eiffel Tower after their arrival – and found a croissant on the way so he could make his wish a reality!
“We had a photo shoot of Bryce eating his croissant!” said Marilyn. “Bryce even took a picture planking under the Eiffel Tower, a suggestion from his physical therapist, to show how much strength he’s regained since his treatments started.”
One of Bryce’s favorite parts of his wish was a special croissant making class at a bakery.
“I never realized how much effort actually goes into creating a croissant!” said Bryce with a laugh. “We learned that chefs in France spend their entire careers specializing in just one pastry, so it took us a while to get the hang of it, but we had so much fun.”
In addition to the Eiffel Tower, Bryce and his family visited the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Sacré-Cœur, the Catacombs of Paris and the Palace of Versailles.
“I’ve always been interested in French history from my classes in school, so it was really cool to actually be there seeing it in real life,” he said.
“Bryce knew more than our tour guide at times!” said Marilyn. “He even pointed out things that the guides left out along the way.”
The wish was a great experience for Bryce’s whole family because there was always something for everyone to enjoy.
“Bryce loved all the amazing architecture, I liked the war museum and we all really enjoyed eating at the cafés and markets,” Marilyn said. “When Bryce would get tired and need to rest at night, we could pick up fresh food just down the street and easily eat dinner in our hotel.”
Now, back from his wish, Bryce goes to clinic once a month and his family says they are so proud of everything he’s overcome since his diagnosis.
“Just walking from his hospital bed to the door used to be an accomplishment for Bryce, and now he’s the first bone marrow transplant kid at Banner University Medical Center to do a 10K around the hospital!” said Marilyn. “It’s truly incredible.”
“I can’t thank Make-A-Wish Arizona enough for the amazing gift they were able to give me,” said Bryce. “There are no words to describe the way my wish has made me feel and the impact it’s had on my life.”