When Jamie, 13, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she dreamed of going somewhere far away from her hospital room, treatments and physician appointments.
Instead, she imagined herself among sloths and monkeys, snorkeling in the ocean and exploring the jungles of Costa Rica.
Just the idea of visiting this magical place meant everything to Jamie, which is why she chose to go there for her wish when visited by Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“I hoped to go somewhere with beautiful beaches but I also wanted to do action-packed stuff too, like hiking and zip lining,” said Jamie. “Costa Rica was the one place that had everything I was looking for, including a sloth sanctuary that I couldn’t wait to visit!”
Soon enough, Jamie learned her biggest wish was about to become a reality.
“When we found out that Jamie’s wish would be coming true, it was something good, really good - a bright light to peer at through the darkness,” said Jamie’s mom, Peggy. “Looking forward to her wish helped Jamie so many times during the year of cancer treatments and it became something for us to work toward. I would tell Jamie to think about feeling better, out of this hospital bed and unhooked from all these IV lines, flying free on a zip line high above the rainforest canopy.”
“At times I would just look at pictures of Costa Rica and imagine it,” said Jamie. “It was the one place that put everything in perspective and helped me so much to get through the tough times.”
As Jamie waited for her wish to come true, she started to feel better. Then, just weeks before Jamie and her family planned to leave for their trip, they received some pretty incredible news.
“We learned Jamie was cancer-free!” said Peggy. “It was so amazing to hear and her wish was going to be the perfect way to celebrate. Every bad memory was so vivid in our minds, it’s almost like we needed something this powerful to bring us joy again.”
The night before leaving on her wish, Jamie, her parents, and her sister, Kate, could barely sleep they were so excited.
“We woke up at 2 in the morning to get ready and we were so surprised to find a limo waiting outside our house to escort us to the airport!” said Peggy.
Jamie’s family boarded their flight and as soon as they arrived, it was a surreal experience.
“I’ve been to the ocean before but nothing compares to swimming off the Costa Rican shore with its clear blue water and white sand beaches,” said Jamie. “I remember how relaxed I felt seeing the ocean for the first time the day we arrived.”
Throughout the week, Jamie and her family spent their time experiencing every breathtaking sight of Costa Rica – snorkeling in the ocean, hiking through the jungle and observing the local wildlife up-close.
“When we visited the sloth sanctuary we were able to see tons of baby sloths,” said Jamie. “And one night, we went on a boat ride to see bats, monkeys, birds and spiders – I even got to hold a caiman!”
One of Jamie’s favorite memories from her wish was zip lining over the treetops of the Costa Rican canopy.
“It was unbelievable!” said Jamie. “We were above all the trees in the rainforest and I felt free.”
Peggy, who isn’t as much of a thrill-seeker as Jamie, was very apprehensive to go zip lining at first, but she found new strength thinking of her daughter.
“I was so scared I almost didn’t think I could do it, but then I thought about everything we had been through with Jamie’s cancer and how scary that was, and it changed my perspective,” said Peggy. “I don’t know if I would have done it for anybody besides Jamie, but she talked about going zip lining so much during her time in the hospital and her wish was for all of us to experience this together.”
As their big adventure came to an end, Jamie and her family left Costa Rica with renewed energy and spirits.
“Something so special had just happened, so good and so long-awaited, and what an amazing blessing!” said Peggy. “Never in a million years would we have been able to experience something like this without Jamie’s wish, and Make-A-Wish Arizona gave Jamie so much more than a trip to Costa Rica. What a difference this experience made in our precious 13-year-old daughter's young life, and she felt great the whole time, which to me was the true gift. Going on the actual wish trip was the sweet, beautiful icing on the cake.”
Since they’ve been back, Jamie’s family says everything seems brighter and her wish has helped them see so much beauty in the world.
“My wish has given me something wonderful to look back on, instead of remembering the bad things from these past few years,” said Jamie. “Now, I have memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”