Jada’s wish began in the way that all wishes begin – a referral. In fact, less than 24 hours after she was diagnosed with leukemia, Jada discovered her social worker had referred her for a wish.
“A wish gives children something to look forward to in the dark days of treatment and I wanted Jada to experience that joy,” said Laura Davis, pediatric oncology social worker at Tucson’s Banner University Medical Center.
“My patients are eligible for a wish not because of their prognosis, but because of everything they have been through and how strong they have been.”
Laura witnessed Jada’s incredible strength in the months that followed, as she watched her endure chemotherapy three to four days each week, sometimes experiencing in-patient hospital stays for a week at a time and one that lasted 20 days.
“She was constantly throwing up or feeling sick all summer, and then she couldn’t go to school because doctors were worried should would develop an infection,” said Jada’s mother, Ashira.
“I was afraid to get excited about anything new because it had been the worst year of our lives, but Jada’s wish was therapeutic for her. It gave her something she could finally look forward to and the motivation to get better.”
Soon, Jada started thinking less about injections and treatments and more about different ideas for her wish. She knew she wanted to travel somewhere tropical and is a huge Disney fan, so a Disney Cruise Line cruise to the Bahamas seemed like the perfect way to combine the two.
“We went to Disneyland the summer before she was diagnosed and Disney movies always seem to cheer her up,” said Ashira. “It was so fun for her to look at photos of the ship and plan our excursions and activities while she was stuck in the hospital.”
Ready for a change, Jada, her mom, and her two sisters couldn’t wait to set sail for her wish.
“This was the first time all four of us were on a trip together, just the girls. Jada’s wish was healing for our family and it was so wonderful to hear their laughter and joy once again,” said Ashira, who enjoyed the ships’ many activities and excursions throughout the week with her family.
“The buffet was great and we played games, watched live performances and went to a pirate-themed party on the boat that was really fun for Jada,” she continued. “Then, every night we would find a new surprise in our cabin, like a stuffed animal, chocolate-covered strawberries and even gear for one of our excursions!”
Some of their excursions included riding jet skis in the ocean and snorkeling at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean. One of the best memories for everyone was swimming with dolphins at Atlantis.
“Dolphins are Jada’s favorite animal and being in the water with them was like nothing you could ever experience,” said Ashira. “It was so surreal and I think it was so powerful because of how far Jada has come to get here.”
Now back on dry land, Jada is excited to be starting high school this semester. She has treatments once a month and she is in maintenance now for her cancer.
“I’ve seen a big change in her this past year,” said Ashira. “Watching Jada regain her strength and be able to enjoy her life again is something so well-deserved after everything she has been through. She’s so excited to start this new chapter of her life.”