By The Children’s Wish Foundation
At just eight years old, Emily is wise beyond her years. This wisdom comes as a result of having already, at such a young age, gone through more then any child should. In 2010 Emily was diagnosed with Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma, also known as JPA, which is a benign brain tumor most often diagnosed in children and young adults. Initially, doctors were very concerned about the placement of the tumor and were unsure if they could remove it.
Thankfully, she underwent intensive surgery where doctors were able to remove 95% of the tumor on her brain stem. Today Emily is a happy, smiling little girl and although half of her face remains paralyzed, she continues to do physiotherapy to improve her toothy grin! Emily and family remain cautiously optimistic about her long term prognosis and Emily undergoes regular testing and check ups to ensure no regrowth of the tumor.
When asked to decide on her most heartfelt wish, Emily’s parents left it all up to her. She was torn between her love of all things Disney and her love of the soft sand beaches in Hawaii. What if her wish could combine her two favorite things? In the end it was online research that helped her decide. Low and behold, Aulani, a Disney Hawaii Resort opened on the island of Oahu.
What better way to celebrate a birthday, than celebrate with family at the Aulani Resort in Hawaii! That is exactly what Emily was able to do in January 2012 as one of the first wish recipients to have visited this brand new Disney resort on the island of O’ahu.
For Emily and family, this wish trip was the culmination of a long journey to recovery and an escape from all the worries, fears and frustrations experienced with Emily’s condition. Although her health remains stable since surgery, it is a journey Emily and family will not soon forget and they welcomed the opportunity to reconnect outside of the illness.
Upon their return, parents Tammy and Darrin shared:
“First of all words cannot express the gratitude and amazem
ent we feel for the Children’s Wish Foundation and everyone that supports you. As a family we had an amazing and rejuvenating week that the kids are still talking about! From the resort water park, Disney themed luau, dolphin encounter to our catamaran trip; these were all truly amazing experiences Emily celebrated her ninth birthday at the Ama Ama restaurant at the Aulani resort complete with her very own Mickey cake. It was very special for Emily to be able to celebrate her birthday in Hawaii and one of our favourite moments.”
Today Emily is doing great she is now twelve years old and in grade six. When Emily is not busy at school you can find her practicing her Ukraine dancing or practicing her guitar. Emily is one busy girl these days and is having fun learning new dance routines and practicing new songs on her guitar.