When Make-A-Wish Arizona volunteers Jonathan and Katrina met Zachary, they knew his one true wish was to visit his ancestral home Scotland. He grew excited talking about seeing the green hills, exploring castles and ruins, and eating different foods.
However, there was a time when all Zachary could do was imagine these foods and his family was unsure whether or not his illness would permit him to get on a plane.
“While Zach was in the hospital off and on for over a year there was a 5-week stint where he couldn’t eat or drink by mouth,” said Zachary’s mom, Liz.
“This was sheer torture and all he could do was talk about food and make a six-page list of all the things he wanted to eat when he was better.”
Zachary, who suffers from aplastic anemia, has faced chemotherapy and radiation treatments, in addition to a bone marrow transplant. After spending more than a year and a half recuperating from the effects of his illness, Zachary finally received the “OK” from his doctor to fly.
“We almost thought the wish wouldn’t happen,” said Liz. “With all of his procedures, it took a long time to get to his wish. But it was such a lovely thing to look forward to, and Zach was thrilled!”
“It really helped keep my mind off things,” said Zachary, who soon boarded a flight to Scotland in June with his brother, sister and parents.
And on this trip, no food was off limits.
“St. Andrews had really good fish and chips,” said Zachary. “And one night we tried Indian food, and the chicken tikka masala was the best thing I tasted on the trip!”
“I couldn’t help but have a tear in my eye as he relished every bite,” Liz said.
Throughout the trip, Zachary had the chance to explore Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews, Inverness and Loch Ness.
“The best part of the trip was visiting St. Andrews. There’s an old monastery there that was repeatedly attacked, and the monks had to fend it off. I don’t really know why everyone wanted it, but maybe it was just because of how beautiful it looked,” Zachary said.
“I was standing at Loch Ness admiring the greenness of the valleys and hills, and I thought it was so beautiful. It was definitely one of my favorite spots of my wish!”
Looking back on it all, Zachary’s mom can’t help feeling amazed at everything they have overcome.
“We are leaps and bounds from where we were two years ago. Zach couldn’t eat or drink at one point, and we thought he was going to die,” said Liz. “Zach has some follow-up appointments to get through, but we’ll take it. We feel so blessed that he is doing so much better, not 100 percent, but so much better.”
“I had no idea what families go through when their child has a life-threatening illness, but there was this bright hope for my child with this wish. I think it’s a wonderful organization, and Zachary’s wish was just marvelous.”