I have worked as a pediatric oncology nurse for over eight years at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. As an inpatient nurse, you get to know the patients and their families very well. You are with them from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep at night. As a nurse, you are there with them through the most difficult times of their lives. You are there through diagnosis, chemo treatments, fevers, blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, remission, and last chemo parties. You are there when they have good days and when they have bad. You form a relationship with these kids and their families that is like no other. You learn about their likes and their dislikes. Their hopes and their fears. What makes them smile, what makes them upset. You get to know each kid and truly see how unique and special each one is.
When Make-A-Wish is presented to families it is after the initial shock of diagnosis. The decision on what to choose for the wish becomes a great distraction during difficult times or long boring stays in the hospital. Kids and their families are told to dream big, and dream big they do! I love walking into a patients room and seeing a list of all the ideas for wishes. Some even draw pictures to go with the wish they want to have. I love to see the twinkle in their eyes as they describe the trip they want to take, the tree house they want to build, or movie star they want to meet. Their wish becomes a light at the end of the long harrowing tunnel that is cancer. It is so important for the healing process to have this beacon of hope.
Even though most kids have their wish granted when treatment is over, it doesn’t mean as nurses that we don’t get to hear all about it. Kids come up from clinic visits to share their amazing and epic wishes. Photo albums in hand, smiles plastered on their families, happiness radiating from their hearts. I love to hear stories about the travels they took. From ATVing in Hawaii, to going to movie premiere in LA, to going to the Pro Bowl, these kids have amazing times. Others choose things like turning their basement into a game room to getting a new fishing boat. No matter what the wish it makes the kids and their families happy and that is the most important thing of all. I truly believe Make-A-Wish makes a positive impact on the kids and families I meet every day. It provides smiles and laughter during the most difficult time of their lives.
Learn more about the healing power of hope at hopeismedicine.org!