For Hilo wish kid Cody, it was a 13th birthday unlike any other, a time to celebrate overcoming a months-long battle with cancer and reunite with her family.
After months of being separated from her parents and siblings while undergoing treatment on Oahu, Cody had been starting to feel lonely and discouraged. She missed spending time with her younger brother Conner and twin sister Blake, who were at home with Dad on the Big Island.
“It was hard being away from her, because she needed me, and I wasn't there,” said Blake. “When she was able to be home, I needed to be with her all the time.”
During her treatments, Cody did not like to use the “c” word, cancer, so she and her family would often call it “the can” instead. As they imagined Cody’s recovery and life beyond illness, they talked about “kicking it in the can!” to give Cody courage for the future.
After her first meeting with wish granter Jennifer at one of her outpatient chemo treatments, Cody knew she wanted to be together with her family, to enjoy time away from the hospital and think about more than the “c word.”
“She always kept her wish in her thoughts when she was going through chemo, so it helped her to know that this trip was waiting for her at the end of her treatments,” Cody’s mom Tara said. “When Cody was feeling really terrible, we would look up YouTube videos of Disney and talk about what it would be like when we got there.”
Soon, the family traveled to The Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. “It was surreal, it was overwhelming to say the least,” Tara explained. “Cody was treated like royalty while she was on her wish trip. The months prior were seriously the worst for our family, and this trip allowed us to spend some much-needed time together.”
An amazing experience for the whole family, it was an especially sweet time for Cody and Blake, who were able to celebrate their birthday while on the wish trip. Together again and focused simply on having fun, the twins had their best birthday yet.
“It was really fun because we got to do things together. It was awesome to see Cody happy,” said Blake.
After experiencing the power of a wish firsthand, Cody’s family returned home with a desire to wish it forward by becoming wish granters on Hawaii Island. Tara summarized the experience perfectly: “We will forever be thankful for Make-A-Wish. We felt whole again.”
In addition to the time spent together and the memories made, the wish also provided Cody with the strength to fight her cancer. For kids like Cody, a wish come true replaces sadness and anxiety with joy and hope. Research shows children who have wishes granted build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illness.
This was true for Cody, whose wish was more than just a dream trip for her ohana, but an incentive to keep fighting and a milestone marking the end of her treatments.
Cody’s advice to other wish kids battling cancer? “Be happy and you can kick it in the can too!”