I spent the majority of 2007 confined to a hospital bed at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, undergoing treatment for the severe case of osteosarcoma that had been developing in my knee for over a year. Fortunately, I was on the receiving end of incredible compassion and care thanks to the medical staff we met those long nine months. Thanks to them, I was declared to be in remission in December of that year, and I was discharged shortly before the holiday season.
During my time in the hospital, Make-A-Wish® was a frequent topic of discussion, of course, but I was unsure of what I would want to do. As an awkward, nerdy 15-year-old boy, I hardly knew what things I liked or would want, let alone what I could ask for. When the nursing staff and my parents both suggested Disney or Universal, my rebellious mind saw it as nothing more than a standard catch-all wish, even though I had no better ideas of my own.
Flash forward to February of 2008, and my parents, myself and my best friend Mark were on our way to Orlando, Florida. While I had been skeptical at first, our first meeting with the representatives from Make-A-Wish had changed my mind. Not only would we basically get full access to every park at both Disney and Universal, we would get an all-expenses-paid stay at Give Kids the World Village. On top of that, and most importantly for my teenaged self, we would be allowed to bring one friend of mine, as I had no siblings of my own. After the most successful sales pitch that wasn’t actually trying to sell me anything, my decision was made.
What followed was a vacation adventure that only exists in the minds of kids, yet was reality for us. Endless turns on our favorite rides, pizza and ice cream and snacks whenever we wanted, and some lucky glances into the workings of these amazing parks. Yes, there were times where I got tired, or my new prosthetic knee started to act up, or I just didn’t feel like being in the sun anymore. But it was still an incredible experience. The highlight of the trip, if I would be forced to pick just one, would have to be when Mark and I rode the Men in Black ride at Universal Studios at least 10 consecutive times, each time trying to beat each other’s previous high scores. It was so innocent and entertaining, that I forgot what had happened to me.
Now, approximately 11 years later, I’m a 26-year-old college graduate with three degrees, one of which is an M.A. in Communication Studies. Since my time in the hospital, I have worked on newspapers, learned the intricacies of broadcast, put pen to paper in both fiction and non-fiction settings, and hosted my own radio show for four consecutive years. I’m even in the process of writing and publishing an academic analysis of the effects of video games on feelings of competition and cooperation in players! Now, I’m looking for work, moving forward into full-fledged adult life, and I’m incredibly happy to be doing so. I have my issues, yes; I’m certainly more bald than I probably would have been if it weren’t for my treatment! But overall, cancer has not bested me, and I will continue to live the greatest life that I can as a result.
Reader, I ask of you but one thing; remember that there is magic in the world. It comes to each of us in a different way, and for different reasons. Mine came thanks to Make-A-Wish. But regardless of how your magic comes to you, let it empower you and inspire you to live to the best of your ability, in whatever way that means for you; and if your magic hasn’t found you yet, don’t lose hope, because it will. Until then, if you happen to see a cheery, chubby guy with more hair on his face than his head, and a slight limp in his step, stop and say hi! I’d love to chat.
Cheers to you all!
wish granted, 2008