By nature, Vihaan is one of the most energetic and joyful kids you’ll ever meet – even after a leukemia diagnosis changed his life.
Vihaan was diagnosed with leukemia at three years old. For the first six months after his diagnosis, he had to make weekly trips to the hospital, and he continued to receive chemotherapy in the years that followed.
“Vihaan couldn’t play with other kids because of the risk of infection, and he couldn’t go to school at first. He didn’t get to socialize with many kids his age or people at all,” said his mother, Hemali. “He didn’t know what life was like for someone his age.”
When Vihaan’s doctor referred him to Make-A-Wish Arizona, Vihaan and his family were thrilled.
“I didn’t know that other kids don’t have to go to the hospital all the time and so I took some time to choose my wish because there were so many possibilities,” Vihaan said.
Vihaan has always been a huge daredevil who loves adventure, and so he chose to go to Disneyland to ride all the exciting, adrenaline-filled rollercoasters at the park. “I had never been on a real rollercoaster before and they looked really fun and crazy,” he said.
“Our Make-A-Wish Arizona volunteers were so considerate throughout the whole process,” Hemali said. “They spent hours talking with him and playing his favorite games to discover what he really wanted his wish to be.”
Unfortunately, due to changes in his health, Vihaan would have to wait longer for his wish to happen than he expected.
“The treatments weren’t working as well as we had hoped and Vihaan was exhausted all the time,” Hemali said. “Make-A-Wish and his doctors recommended we wait so he could truly enjoy his wish.”
“Having to wait until I got better was hard,” Vihaan said. “I was really excited to go.”
Over the next three years, Vihaan went through ups and downs during his treatment. He would start to feel better, but as the time approached to go on his trip, he would experience another relapse.
Finally, when Vihaan was seven years old, he received the best possible news: he no longer needed chemotherapy. Feeling better than ever before, Vihaan was ready to experience his wish to go to Disneyland.
“I was so excited when I found out I didn’t have to go through therapy anymore," Vihaan said. "We could finally go on my wish trip!”
Vihaan and his family visited Disneyland, California Adventure and Universal Studios for his wish. As soon as they arrived at each park, Vihaan wanted to go on the scariest rides first.
“I loved California Screamin’ and the Transformers ride and I went on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride twice!” said Vihaan. “They were really scary, but I wasn’t scared.”
“It was amazing to see his reaction after we got off each ride,” Hemali said. “He had a blast the entire time, and just got to be a carefree kid. For us, it was one of the best trips we’ve ever had.”
Hemali recalls one of the highlights of the trip: at the end of the day they stayed to watch the big parade, but Vihaan was getting tired.
“We asked a Disney staff member if it would be possible to find a spot where Vihaan could sit down and watch the parade, and they immediately led us to one of the best seats in the house with a special seat for Vihaan,” Hemali said.
“People made us feel so welcome and cared for,” Hemali continued. “From start to finish, the trip was stress-free for us.”
In addition, Hemali believes the exciting rides have directly contributed to a rise in Vihaan’s energy level, which is positive change from the constant lethargy and exhaustion he used to feel.
Now, Vihaan is set to begin second grade in August and is celebrating one year since his last chemotherapy treatment. He often thinks about his trip to Disneyland because it was the true mark of the end of his illness.
“After the trip, I was me again,” said Vihaan. “It was the best time ever.”