When Anthony was 14 years old, his mother took him to the hospital not knowing what to expect.
“His eyes were yellow and he was feeling tired and shortness of breath. I will never forget when doctors told us he had liver failure,” said Anthony’s mom, Autumn. Following his diagnosis, Anthony spent almost a year dealing with different medications, blood transfusions, and more.
In fact, Anthony’s medical journey was like the waves of the ocean. Just when he was starting to feel better, another wave of bad news would come crashing down.
“Four months after, they said he was done with treatment but he started to experience effects of bone marrow failure and doctors told us Anthony had a rare blood disorder called aplastic anemia,” said Autumn.
When Anthony’s bone marrow started to respond to treatment after several months, his social worker decided to give him and his mom some hope by referring him for a wish.
“I’m glad Make-A-Wish is for kids of all ages, because sometimes teens get left behind,” said Autumn. “An illness is hard no matter what age you are.”
As Anthony thought about his wish, a childhood memory resurfaced.
“I remembered when I was younger, we were going to take a family vacation to Atlantis but ended up taking a cruise to Mexico instead. I love going on water slides with my brother, so it seemed like the perfect choice because they have some of the best water slides,” said Anthony, who was also excited to swim with sea lions and sharks.
Anthony’s volunteer wish granters surprised him at Dave & Buster’s to tell him his one true wish would be granted.
“It finally happened at just the right time,” said Anthony. “Swimming with the sea lions was my favorite part. We got more freedom with them and they had a lot of personality! My wish was like the light at the end of the tunnel after all the medical stuff.”
The family also enjoyed time together at the beach, going on water slides, and swimming with sharks and dolphins.
“I think wishes are a celebration that you’ve gotten through a lot. I watched Anthony and how stressful his condition was for him. Being a teenager, he internalizes his emotional struggles, and his condition affects every aspect of his life,” said Autumn. “It was a very long couple years, but to see him smiling and laughing, running around on the beach with his brother - it was a real tear jerker because I knew he was well enough to be there.”
Now, Anthony has less appointments and is taking less medication.
“I was so grateful for my wish,” said Anthony. “My condition has made me realize how much people take for granted and that I shouldn’t worry about small things that don’t matter.”