A family reunited
Nikki's family has felt the impact of a wish. Now in her thirties, Nikki works at Make-A-Wish as a Regional Fundraising Manager - a role that she describes as her "dream job"!
Nikki's wish was a life-changing experience for her and her whole family. This is Nikki’s story.
It all began on a family holiday…
At the age of 15, I got the devastating news that I had Leukaemia. We were on a caravan holiday in France.
At home, I was treated in Birmingham Children’s Hospital where the leukaemia was diagnosed as Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). They explained that AML was more common in adults and the treatment was shorter but much more intense, so I’d probably be quite poorly. That was the underestimation of the century…
There was one day though, early on, when I turned to my dad and just said, “Am I going to die?” He said “Absolutely not, we’ll be fine”. And I believed him – I had no reason not to; he’d never lied to me before. "
Family life turned upside down
For almost a year, I spent every single day with either my mum or dad, undergoing chemo and other treatments. My sister visited less and less as the weeks went by and my parents said it was because they wanted her to concentrate on her college work. Later in life, she confessed to me that she stopped coming because she felt so left out and pushed away because everything was about me.
We were never all together and our little family started to fall apart.
The start of our Wish Journey
When my treatment was over we celebrated being in remission and I finally left the hospital for the last time. Little did I know that on that day, one of our nurses referred us to Make-A-Wish.
All I could think about was all of the lovely times we’d spent together, that we’d probably not get the chance to do again, because we just weren’t that family anymore.
I didn’t realise that if the Wish Visitors came to see you then it meant that you were more than likely to get a wish. I thought that they would see me, see that I was now in remission and say that I didn’t need a wish granting because I wasn’t ill anymore. But, honestly, if ever there was a time that my family needed a wish, it was then.
The Wish Visit
I had the most lovely couple come and see me, they came in with chocolates for me and my sister (who had stayed in begrudgingly) and then asked me what my wish was. I’d told my parents that I hadn’t decided, so they looked quite surprised when I said “I would just love to go somewhere, anywhere, and be a family again.”
The days leading up to my wish
And as well as the excitement, I felt special. The fact that I was being given this amazing gift made me realise that maybe what we had just been through was a big deal actually. And maybe we were pretty amazing for putting a smile on our faces every day and saying “I’m fine” and for getting through it all in the best way we could.
My sister didn’t show much excitement about anything in those days and seemed genuinely put out at the thought of having to spend two weeks with us and I remembered thinking that this wasn’t going to be like our previous holidays, because things were just so different now.
A family reunited by a wish
The time came for us to have our wish, and I say “us” because to me, it’s not just the child that goes through it when they are poorly. In my opinion, my family went through it just as much as I did and sometimes I think my sister went through it even more…
After a couple of quiet days, my sister started coming out of her shell again. Initially she just wanted to keep to herself, read a book and get the fortnight over and done with but by day three, she was my sister again. We were inseparable, laughing, joking and having the best time in the most amazing places like Gibraltar, Malaga, Sardinia…
Just having ourselves for company and having no distractions gave us opportunities to talk about the last couple of years and gave our broken little family an opportunity to put itself back together. And that’s exactly what we did.
Family strength – 18 years of impact
At Make-A-Wish we talk a lot about the impact that a wish has on a child while they’re going through terrible times, how it can change their outlook and lift their spirits. But it goes way further than that. 18 years on, Make-A-Wish still impacts the lives of my family. We are who we are because of that wish. We do the things that we do because of that wish.
We went on that boat as four people and we came off as a family
Nikki has told her story on film, watch more here.