For Damien’s family, the terrible twos were truly terrible.
After finding a large, cancerous tumor behind Damien’s cerebellum at only 20 months old, the little boy celebrated his second birthday in the hospital, continuing the chemotherapy and radiation recommended post surgery.
His treatment lasted more than a year, with very few positive outcomes. It left his family feeling extremely frustrated, not to mention scared that they would lose him, which is when Make-A-Wish Arizona came into their lives.
Damien’s wish – to visit family in Cape Cod – turned out to be just the medicine he needed.
“Damien’s speech is delayed, but we know what he likes and we only want the best for him. He loves his cousins and family so much so we knew a trip to visit family in Cape Cod would benefit him and make him so happy after everything he’s been through,” said Kelley, Damien’s mom.
Damien enjoyed many fun activities during his wish including a ferry ride, kayaking, horseback riding, swimming in the ocean, and even just rolling around in the grass, all with his family by his side.
He really loved connecting with people he hadn’t seen since before his diagnosis, including his 90-year-old great-grandmother, and meeting some of his cousins for the first time. His mom’s favorite part was the way this experience brought her family together.
“Having a sick kid in the family means finances are extremely tight,” said Kelley. “Wishes create a space for families to experience something they would never have been able to otherwise. I really can’t put into words how much this experience has changed us.”
“To go from watching him struggle so much to seeing him embrace the family and the fun of being a kid – it’s truly heart-warming,” she continued. “Damien will have to wear leg braces his whole life, but this wish experience has helped motivate him. He has an impeccable memory, too, and every day since his wish he associates things he sees back to his trip.”
Damien’s volunteer wish granter, Bonnie, also has noticed big changes in him since his wish.
“He couldn’t walk before and now he uses a walker. He has more energy and enthusiasm when he sees someone he recognizes,” said Bonnie. “As a volunteer, our goal is to be able to give families lasting memories and creating hope, and Damien’s wish reminded me just what an impact they can make. Seeing him walking around town after he returned, and the progress he’s made since, is really incredible.”