Robin was in isolation, having recently undergone a bone marrow transplant after a relapse with leukemia.
During Robin’s first round of treatment, everyone had come to visit: classmates, friends, and family. This time, there were fewer and fewer visitors. And once she was placed in isolation, there were none.
“The worst part about the relapse was the bone marrow transplant (BMT) room. It was like I was trapped in the room, and slowly the walls were closing in, and I was by myself with no one who really understands what I’m going through,” Robin describes. But soon, she saw a friendly face through the glass.
Robin knew of Ally, who had recently been diagnosed with bone cancer, through family friends, but the two had never met.
“At first I had no idea who Ally was,” explains Robin. “Then, one day, she showed up in my ANT room (the room where you sterilize yourself before walking into the BMT room) and I thought ‘OH, YOU’RE ALLY.’”
Despite the glass, an instant connection formed.
The two began texting, bonding over everything from a shared love of Harry Potter to how to wrap pills to avoid the bad taste and how to cope with the hair loss that comes with chemotherapy.
“Her friendship made my hospital days easier, because it allowed me to connect to a person on a level that no one else could understand,” said Robin. “With my hospital friends, we can relate on things that most of the world hasn’t even experienced, and I think that’s pretty cool.”
Their friendship came at the perfect time, with Robin needing support through her relapse with cancer, and Ally needing someone who understood the incredibly difficult journey that she herself was now also going through.
When Robin was released from isolation and went home, Ally and her family visited her there too. This time, the two could sit side by side. “They talked and talked and talked,” said Robin’s mom, Julie. “Just having a friend to talk to who knows what it’s like helped Robin and Ally be friends.”
Ally’s mom Dayle said Robin’s influence has been a huge source of comfort and confidence for her.
“When Ally started to lose her hair, she didn’t want anyone to see her. However, as time went on and she saw Robin wear just headbands and not hats and beanies, Ally started to copy Robin and that helped her confidence,” she explained.
“Robin was one of the first friends I made at the hospital,” said Ally. “Our friendship has helped me get through tough times—Robin will come and visit me or make me laugh when I don’t feel the best. She has helped me get through my treatments with a smile.”
Dayle described one instance where the hospital was planning a magical prom night for the teens. However, at 12 years old, Ally was too young to attend. “That didn’t stop Robin and the older girls from advocating for Ally,” said Dayle. “With the girls’ persistence, Ally was able to attend the prom and had so much fun dancing with them.”
The girls have also bonded over imagining life beyond the walls of the hospital; both are wish kids waiting for their wishes to be granted. Ally’s one true wish is to go to Walt Disney World for Christmas this year. Robin’s is to go to London, to “at last see the place that holds [her] fantasy friends” like Harry Potter and Peter Pan.
Both Robin and Ally view their wishes as a sign that they’ve made it—that they can do anything. “Since my diagnosis and relapse, I’ve always been told ‘don’t sit in the sun…don’t go to crowded places…you’re not allowed to do that.’ However, once I get the okay from my doctor to go on my wish, it’s a big step toward living a normal life,” said Robin. “A wish come true would also mean that I made it—that I actually beat leukemia, and am very lucky that I did.”
For Ally, wish granter Jodi describes the wish as part of her medicine. “Ally looks at December as the reward for overcoming where she is now,” she said. “Ally’s wish is an opportunity for her to enjoy being a kid, spend time with her family, and know that people cared enough to make it happen.”
As Robin and Ally look forward to their wishes, they continue to inspire one another and the other kids in the hospital going through battles that few else understand.
“I am told when in the hospital, Ally is often found in the playroom inspiring other sick children,” in the same way Robin inspires her, said Jodi.
Said Ally’s mom Dayle, “It hasn’t been an easy journey, and we still have a long journey before us, but we are so thankful for all the love and support we have been receiving. We have met many wonderful people like Robin, and it has helped us live life to the fullest and take one day a time.”