Her focus – then and now – is about the impact the wish made in her perception of her life post brain tumor.
“I was a very active kid for my first 13 years, a gymnast, and that all went away after my diagnosis,” said Alice. Her diagnosis, a golf ball sized brain tumor, included surgery and treatments that left her with multiple changes to her body and her abilities.
“I lost most of my vision. I gained 8 lbs from the drugs they had me on. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I felt really helpless and had a hard time adjusting,” Alice said.
Her godmother, who had donated to Make-A-Wish in the past, knew something needed to be done for Alice and her family to get them on a positive path again. She referred Alice for a wish experience and soon, the family was on a flight to Florida.
“I remember going to the airport in a limo and I remember getting lost a lot which was funny and kind of bonding for my family,” said Alice. “But what I really remember was staying at Give Kids the World.”
Give Kids the World Village is a 501(c)3, 84-acre resort next to Disney World that works with Make-A-Wish to provide the ultimate vacation experience for children with critical illnesses.
“Give Kids the World was amazing because it was filled with families like mine,” said Alice. “Our family had our own table, but everyone talked to everyone else. People just walked around and introduced themselves and shared their stories of what they were going through. When they came to our table, they would look at me and my brothers and ask, ‘who is the wish kid’ and that made me realize that no one could tell I was different.
“I remember meeting a little girl who was born without a fully-developed spine and she was riding the horses on the property, using all these contraptions and gear but she was laughing and having a great time,” continued Alice. “It really hit me at that moment and had me thinking, ‘who am I to complain?’”
From that day forward, Alice decided that she wouldn’t let the changes in her health, or her situation change her future.
“I left my wish feeling very humbled but also very focused on how I could get the life skills I needed to have a job and do all the things I wanted to do before my brain tumor,” said Alice. “The wish came at the perfect time, when I needed it most.”
Alice returned to Arizona and started taking back her life. She started learning braille, getting weekly lessons on mobility to learn how to navigate her environment safely, learned how to use technology to accommodate her learning needs and never doubted what was possible.
She married and had three children, one of which was lost to SIDS in another heartbreaking life event.
During all of that, she also graduated Magna Cum Laude with two bachelor’s degrees in Business from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Education. Today, she and her family live happily in Arizona while she works to recruit the best candidates for a master’s level nursing program for a college in California
“It hasn’t been easy all the time but, like I said to myself during my wish, ‘there are people who have it much worse’. I focus on being grateful for what I have and for knowing that I can do anything I set my mind to. So much of where I am today is credited to those who have encouraged, supported and opened my eyes and mind to different ways of thinking – I am forever appreciative of that!” said Alice.