It all began when Andrew, 13, started coming down with fevers. Sometimes, two weeks or so would pass and the fever would go away, but they always came back. His pediatrician suspected that Andrew had merely caught something viral, and that he would get better soon with the right care. But Andrew’s health only got worse, and he and his family couldn’t help but worry.
One morning, Andrew woke up feeling very, very ill. Suspecting that Andrew had something much more serious than a viral illness, his family took him to the emergency room at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
At first, doctors thought that he had come down with a bad case of pneumonia. But an x-ray revealed something much worse - a very large mass in his chest. It was “scary and overwhelming,” Charlene said, for Andrew to hear doctors tell him that he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, because they had only been explaining things to his parents during the hospital visits. Although Hodgkin’s is a common form of cancer and treatable, his family was anxious about what would come next.
Andrew endured four rounds of chemotherapy and eight weeks of radiation treatment. Life revolved around being in and out of the hospital. "It was very frustrating for Andrew,” Charlene explained. He wanted to be outside and having fun with his friends, not spending all his time stuck in a hospital room. Chemotherapy was helping to reduce the mass in Andrew’s chest, but the treatment was tiring and he still had a long way to go. Not being able to do anything but wait until treatments were over was such a powerless and frustrating feeling. Andrew knew he had to power through it in order to get better, but it was hard to keep fighting.
One day at the hospital, Andrew was approached by Make-A-Wish to find out if he wanted to have a wish granted. Charlene, Andrew’s mom, was a little hesitant at first and thought it would be best to hold off on a wish until the worst was behind him. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments had been helping but she wondered, was Andrew even sick enough for a wish? She assumed it was for children who were terminal, not for children like Andrew who were making a recovery. However, Andrew had gone through so much in the last few months, and Charlene knew that he deserved an amazing experience to celebrate. After such a long period of stress and uncertainty, Andrew had a big wish to look forward to, and it was great to see him smiling again.
His family was sure that Andrew, who is a huge baseball fan, would wish to meet the Philadelphia Phillies, his favorite baseball team. Nobody expected him to wish for a trip to Hawaii! After spending so much time stuck in the hospital, Andrew knew that everyone could use a change of scenery, and having an adventure in Hawaii was just what they needed.
Much to his excitement, Andrew got to “call all the shots,” as Charlene put it, on his wish trip. Having control in his life again after such a long and tiring battle with cancer was empowering for Andrew – he was able to do what he wanted again without having to worry about his illness, and he definitely made the most of it.
The trip’s itinerary was all set in place, thanks to Andrew. He planned all of the fun events and activities he wanted to do in Hawaii, like relaxing on the beach, trying local foods, and sightseeing, and made sure to get the most out of everything. Sea turtles are his absolute favorite animal, and during a snorkeling trip he even got to swim by a few and see them up close! For Andrew, it was one of the most memorable parts of his wish.
No one in Andrew’s family had to worry about choosing restaurants in Hawaii, either – Andrew had it covered! “He loved getting to pick which restaurants he wanted to go to,” Charlene said. For Andrew, nothing was too adventurous – tasting new foods and experiencing authentic Hawaiian cuisine was one of his favorite things to do on the trip.
Hawaii was much more than a vacation for Andrew. It was his opportunity to make the most out of life, to have a big adventure after such a long and scary time in the hospital, wondering when he would get better and be able to just have fun without worrying about his health. Andrew had the strength to battle his illness and still keep enjoying life, and his family got to see how brave he is.
“This wish was a big ‘hurrah’ for him, he went through so much and really deserved this,” Charlene said. This trip not only boosted his spirits, but his family’s spirits as well – it was inspiring to see Andrew overcome his illness and enjoy himself again. He still has control over his own life, and doesn’t have to let his illness take that away. His trip to Hawaii helped Andrew prove to himself that despite all that he’s been through, he can still keep going.