"As a freshman in high school, I had a stage one glioma the size of a golf ball lodged between my cerebellum and brainstem. It required surgery immediately, or I would die, as my skull was filling up with cerebrospinal fluid.
I made it out of surgery, but fell into a coma for more than two weeks, scaring my family and worrying my physicians.
When I finally emerged from my two-week coma, my muscles had atrophied to the point where I couldn’t sit up on my own, much less walk, write, or eat.
I had cranial nerve palsies, which meant my eyelids didn’t work and I couldn’t gaze up or down. I also suffered from severe chronic tinnitus, meaning I heard jackhammer sounds in my head 24/7.
After three months in the hospital for rehabilitation they sent me home, but I was still dealing with many of the disabilities that came with my diagnosis.
I dealt with it all for three years. My cranial nerve palsies were still in full effect. It was about this time that my mom thought about Make-A-Wish and decided to see if my condition would make me eligible.
When my mom called the office, the staff was incredibly accommodating. I went through the referral process and was approved as eligible for a wish.
When the volunteer wish granters arrived to help me determine my wish, I was a little indecisive. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, after all.
After weeks of thinking, and hearing about my parents’ honeymoon to Maui and about my best friend’s parents who had lived there, I decided I would go whale watching in Maui.
I got to bring one friend because I didn’t have a sibling, which was pretty hard to choose who to bring. I asked my friend Laura to go with me because we had been friends since seventh grade and she visited me when I was in the hospital.
Because of the kindness of donors and staff who created a wonderful wish for me, it pushed me to be braver and venture out of my comfort zone. That opened up new adventures that I actually wasn’t afraid to do.
It let me see that there was a world out there full of beauty without limits. My wish encouraged me to take a chance.
After my wish trip, I graduated high school and started to consider what was next for me. I believe my wish trip sparked the beginning seeds of courage that I needed to go to college away from home.
I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in strategic communication last May, exactly four years later. As I was searching for jobs, I came across the Make-A-Wish internship.
It was a perfect opportunity to use my degree in public relations to communicate and tell stories. Now, as an intern, I have had the opportunity to tell the stories of other wish kids, volunteers, donors and everyone that makes a wish come true.
I think wishes are important for kids with critical illnesses because they help us discover parts of ourselves that we might not be able to fully realize otherwise."