Evangelina’s diagnosis with leukemia at age three was heart-wrenching. She immediately spent 37 days in Hasbro Children's Hospital and began a 2½ year treatment protocol. This included daily chemo, nine spinal taps, and steroids which caused extreme side effects. Due to an allergy to one of the drugs, she also had painful biweekly shots in her leg.
We learned about Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island soon after Evangelina’s diagnosis. It was a beacon of hope! Evangelina loves the beach, swimming, and sailing, and wanted to learn to surf. We scheduled her wish trip to Hawaii for soon after she finished treatment. The months of anticipation were so comforting to her and helped her realize something important: this wish was being planned for her, because of the courageous journey she was enduring.
Everyone throughout the planning process and on her wish was so friendly, and each day in Hawaii we were in awe. When we entered our hotel room, Evangelina gazed out at the ocean and said, “I feel like I’m dreaming.”
One of the absolute highlights of Evangelina's wish was her surfing lesson. She was nervous at first, the only child in a class full of adults and her dad. But soon we were watching her ride a wave the length of a football field ─ by herself! It was amazing! In this moment, we realized that Evangelina can do anything she puts her mind to.
The transformation and empowerment we all felt through Evangelina's wish continues. Since Hawaii, she is more determined and eager for new challenges. She didn’t hesitate to say yes when asked to join a swim team this year. When her teacher asked everyone to bring in three things to share about themselves, she brought the port through which she received chemotherapy. Evangelina’s wish helped her to be proud she beat leukemia.
Wishes really do make kids stronger. We watched strength grow in our daughter and felt it grow within ourselves, too. You all went above and beyond for our brave Evangelina and our family. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you – or, as they say in Hawaii: Mahalo!