“You have cancer.” Words no one, let alone a 16-year-old, wants to hear. I was a perfectly healthy teenager, and in an instant everything changed. I was a pediatric cancer patient fighting for my life.
In the midst of so many painful treatments and hospital visits, finding out that I was eligible for a wish energized me like nothing else could. I felt like it became part of my treatment to think about the possibilities. At the very least, it distracted me from the pain.
When I ran through the “pie in the sky” wish list with my Wish Granting Volunteers, I started to think of what was really important to me. I wanted to choose a wish that would be special and I wanted it to last forever, so I wished for a camera. Having a camera couldn’t cure my cancer, but it could heal my spirit and help me feel more like a normal kid. This would be a way to explore my passion, and finding the perfect one became my new focus.
I had never even owned my own camera before, and now I had one that helped me envision my future as a photographer. I didn’t realize it then, but it would help me capture some of the most important memories of my life. It helped me beat my cancer.
As if it weren’t enough, it happened again during my sophomore year of college. My family heard the words, “she has cancer.” But this time, it was my mom, and it was a cancer far more aggressive than mine.
My mom and I did everything we could to cram 100 years of memories into the 24 years I had with her. I can’t thank my volunteers, that camera store, and Make-A-Wish enough for giving me the ability to capture her journey. Those pictures are everything to me.
Carrying the memories of my mom with me, photography continued to be a special part of my life. It was with her blessing that I married my fiancé that same year and we started our crazy adventure together.
Photographing local Make-A-Wish events and being part of granting a child’s wish to be a model for the day brought me more joy than anything I had ever known. These experiences were not only valuable for the wish kids and their families, they were helping me work through losing my mom.
I realized I wanted to be a part of giving these kids and their families something that would change their lives forever, despite the serious challenges in front of them.
They needed hope. They needed my help.
Make-A-Wish believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, so what was I going to do?
I can’t do this without you.
Make-A-Wish desperately needs our help. Right now, there is only enough funding to grant 50% of the wishes waiting. And every hour of every day, more and more kids are diagnosed with a critical illness.
Have you ever taken a moment to think of how much of your life you truly remember? It’s in moments.
Now, think about a child battling cancer, or a heart condition, or a kidney disorder laying in a hospital bed. YOU have the power to create moments that could impact the rest of these kids’ lives.
Donors like you changed my life.
My name is Lauren and I am a wish kid, a volunteer, a donor, a community supporter, and as of May 2015, I’m a staff member. I am 32 years old and I remember the moment my wish was granted and I received my camera. That experience is so much of who I am today, and I know now that I didn’t need to wish for a camera to make my wish last forever – I could have chosen anything, but I chose what was in my heart and that’s why my wish has stayed with me.
Will you help create more stories like mine? Even a small contribution can transform the lives of children with critical illnesses.
Please donate today.