by Olivia Faith Lounsbury, Wish Kid
You know when you’re a little kid, and you always dreamed of being a ballerina, or a firefighter, or a teacher, or a princess?
Each and every child is deserving of this outlook, for at least the nascent stages of their lives. The world through those innocent, rose-colored glasses is something we all look back on fondly, reminiscing of a simpler time.
What happens when this shining outlook is stolen from a four-year-old, seized without any hope of recapture? What happens when this child begins to lose the hope that makes them just that: a child. Once those stylish rose-colored glasses come off, is there any way to put them back on?
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stole my life for one year and two months, and fortified every minute thereafter. I was brought to the hospital on my fourth birthday. While all of the other children were enjoying cake, concerned only with the thought of not having a second serving, I was laying in my mother’s bed, listening to the din of what was supposed to be my birthday party. I couldn’t sleep but I felt like I needed to rest for five years. Something was wrong.
I was diagnosed with AML. Daily life no longer consisted of finger painting, but finger pricks. No more ‘washing my hands before dinner’ but removing me completely from the outside world because of the chance of infection. My mother, the most beautiful, thoughtful person I have ever met, was my guardian angel.
But even with this motherly love, the hope was slowly beginning to deteriorate along with my physical condition. Surrounded constantly by anesthesiologists in crisp white coats and surgeons in sterile uniforms, was it even possible to not mature rapidly? My middle name no longer had meaning, it was just a mixture of letters.
I’m sure the majority, if not all, individuals reading this can agree that mothers are God’s gift to the earth. My mother contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation and organized a meeting. Being the spontaneous child I was, I wished for a water trampoline (yeah, a water trampoline). Every day after the conclusion of the initial meeting, I woke up each and every day excited, rejuvenated and overjoyed because I had something to look forward to. I knew if I continued with my treatments and took my medication, I would be on that trampoline in no time. The sense of excitement overcame the sense of doom and hopelessness. I now had something that would make me feel ‘normal.’
I remember this feeling each and every day, even as the 17-year-old I am today. Now, my wishes are a little more complicated and not always guaranteed. For example, now I wish to become an anesthesiologist. At this pivotal point in my life, graduating and committing to a university, the same feelings of hope and excitement overwhelm me every day. Going into my senior year in high school, I wanted the whole world to experience this at every moment. Of course, I am only one person but I wanted to start somewhere.
The summer before my senior year, I reached out to the Central New York Make-A-Wish chapter and was greeted immediately with enthusiasm, support, and suggestions. With a crew like this helping me each and every step of the way, we were able to construct a plan for the upcoming school year, including events, raffles and other fundraisers that would hopefully contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Later in the summer, one of my co-workers at a local bakery, Union Springs senior Anna Hand, suggested our schools work together to achieve this goal. We worked together all summer to be on the same page. The first day of school finally arrived, and she and I were as prepared as we could ever be. We walked into our respective schools and presented the idea to our National Honor Societies. The support from the members of National Honor Society, the students and teachers, and every member of the community, demonstrates the power of cooperation and the magic of hope. Together, our schools – Union Springs and Southern Cayuga – combined our funds and were able to support the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The excitement described earlier was matched, if not exceeded, by the excitement I had had throughout this endeavor.
As mentioned before, I will become an anesthesiologist. I have had the experience that will allow me to not only do well as a pupil, but become engaged in the hearts and minds of my patients. My work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation has proven how strong it can be when you empathize with someone and give it all you have to inspire something as wonderful as a child’s smile.
Thank you for my water trampoline. Thank you for my opportunity to help you. Thank you for showing me what qualities separate a great doctor from a good doctor, and thank you especially for the love you spread to the children of today.