Up until three years ago, six-year old Scott had a normal childhood.
He was a healthy three-year old who never had an ear infection or even a sick visit to the doctor. He was a good eater, cheerful, and always curious about how things worked.
Around age 2 ½, he began frequently complaining that he was tired. A fairly normal complaint for many toddlers, his parents, Rob and Nancy, thought that he may be experiencing night terrors and restless sleep, or that perhaps he was going through a growth spurt. A little later, Scott’s parents learned that he had eaten some toy grapes by accident. Concerned about the possibility of lead poisoning from paint on the plastic grapes, Rob and Nancy emailed their pediatrician and requested a blood test. After completion of the doctor visit, the concern was that Scott had leukemia.
Early the next morning, they met with Stuart Gold, Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the NC Cancer Hospital, who confirmed a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). One day later, Scott underwent surgery to have a port surgically placed under his skin, into a large vein near his heart, which would facilitate the administration of chemotherapy and blood draws for the next three years.
Throughout the last two years of treatment, Rob and Nancy would often hear other parents at the clinic excitedly share stories about their Make-A-Wish trips. Without fail, every family would say, “No one does Orlando like Make-A-Wish!” However, up until this year, they did not feel comfortable taking a trip that would prevent Scott from being able to travel to UNC Hospitals within two hours. They wanted to wait until Scott’s condition was more stable, and also until he was at an age that he would be more likely to enjoy and remember his Wish for years to come.
Scott began asking about taking a trip to Walt Disney World® Resorts and Universal Studios this past spring. Given that his lab values had consistently remained in the desired range for several months, Nancy thought that perhaps the timing was right for Scott to be able to finally enjoy a nice trip. Upon receiving the wonderful news that the wish was approved, the family’s excitement continued to grow as they counted down to the day of departure.
The trip was truly a trip of a lifetime. The family enjoyed a 6-night stay at the one-of-a-kind Give Kids the World Village, a 70-acre non-profit resort with a storybook theme in Kissimmee, Florida. They also experienced Walt Disney World®, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Legoland, SeaWorld, and Aquatica during the course of their trip.
A key highlight of the trip was a personalized wand experience for Scott that was arranged with the Wand Keeper at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Scott was instructed by the Wand Keeper to conduct a number of different spells until the appropriate wand was identified -- it was a magical experience that the family will never forget.