These children truly wish there would be a cure for their disease. They wish they didn’t have to be hooked up to machines or poked for blood work every day. But since those are wishes that cannot be so easily granted, it brings me so much joy and fulfillment to be able to offer the Make-A-Wish® experience whenever I can.
When I present the idea of a wish to an eligible patient, I love watching their mental wheels turn, as, maybe for the first time in their lives, they realize they can ask for something that has otherwise seemed impossible. Whether it’s a tree house, a trip to a faraway land or meeting a celebrity, these children are granted the opportunity to not be solely defined by their disease or by their treatment. While they cannot escape their disease entirely, a wish allows my patients to escape the clinic and just be a kid. They can feel empowered to ask for a wish and to see it come true; to have control over this small piece of their life when often their disease or even their treatment controls just about everything else.
My favorite part of a wish is hearing about the experience afterward. To see a child’s face light up as he shares memories or shows pictures of his wish … the joy is contagious. A wish provides a renewed sense of hope and determination that every day can be experienced to the fullest, despite having a critical illness. A wish, for these children, is more than nice. It’s necessary. After a wish is granted, you can see a child’s renewed confidence, strength and resiliency flourish.
Peyton is one of these kids. His wish was to throw a Halloween party for all the kids in our children’s hospital. What a wish! Even at age 9, Peyton knew that a wish could transform his life and many others. He knew the power of a wish could reinforce a child’s belief that he or she is important, that his or her fight is important. Peyton understood that whatever disease you’re facing doesn’t have to stop you from being a kid or having hope for the future. Peyton has spent countless hours in the hospital and in clinic; he knows what it’s like to have to grow up too quickly.
March is Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month, which acknowledges the more than 3 million Americans who have hemophilia and other rare bleeding disorders. It is Make-A-Wish’s mission to grant every eligible child’s wish to give them strength and joy as they battle a critical illness. Will you join me in supporting Make-A-Wish’s mission? Together, we transform lives, one wish at a time. REFER A CHILD TODAY
Annie Huhnerkoch is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. Annie obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California and worked as social worker in Southern California for 11 years. She has been living in Charlotte for the past year and currently works in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic.
WATCH BELOW: Physicians share the life-changing impact wishes have – beyond just medicine – on patients and their families.