When Jacqui was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5, she spent weeks in the hospital and faced tough rounds of chemotherapy. But the hardest part of all was feeling alone.
“She had to spend so much time by herself because of her treatments and Jacqui had to sit on the sidelines for a lot of her life,” said Jacqui’s mom, Arlene.
Even after her port was taken out, Jacqui had low self-esteem and confidence because she thought she still couldn’t or shouldn’t do things.
“It was like Jacqui had to completely start her life over,” Arlene said. “Jacqui loves to swim, and she couldn’t do that during treatment. She loves meeting, playing, and being with other kids and having to tell her ‘no you can’t do that’ to so many things was so hard.”
Jacqui and her family were not familiar with Make-A-Wish Arizona until they began talking about the possibility of a wish with Jacqui’s medical team.
“When the volunteers came over to talk to Jacqui about her wish, she already had her mind set,” said Arlene. “She told them ‘I want to go to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.’ In her mind, there was no question. She was going to Hawaii.”
For Jacqui, the most exciting part of the trip was being able to go to the beach again.
“Jacqui practically walked straight from the plane to the beach,” Arlene said. “She went in the ocean every day and going to the beach felt like she had regained a piece of her freedom.”
For the first time in more than a year, Jacqui was able to do anything she imagined.
She met characters and relaxed in the lazy river while at the resort. “Another highlight was definitely snorkeling,” Arlene said. “Jacqui had been dreaming about swimming with the fish. Her reaction to everything was priceless.”
Jacqui has been off chemotherapy for a year now, and she is looking forward to going back to school and meeting new friends.
“I just felt so happy watching Jacqui experience everything. Seeing her happy and having fun, she’s back to her normal silly self,” Arlene said.