Written by Erin Santos, ISF Executive Director & President
6 years ago you couldn’t pay me to sit and have coffee with a little girl who beat cancer and was also Isabella’s age. No Thank You! But time has passed and now I find myself being eager to be in the presence of 13 and 14-year-old girls. I’m constantly wondering what they are into, how they behave and what they say. So when I got the opportunity to meet Sydney, who beat cancer last year I was excited about our meet and greet. Side note, we also helped fund her Make-A-Wish trip to go to London for the ultimate Harry Potter experience. Another side note, Sidney’s sister was in Grant’s preschool class at Calvary when Isabella was diagnosed and fighting. We had no clue at the time of raising funds for her trip that it was for a girl who we once had this connection with. Full circle.
This girl was precious… like beyond precious. She was beautiful and mature and wise beyond her years. I find these are all traits of a child who has stared death in the eye more than once. I couldn’t stop listening to her talk and was consumed with the fact that she let her mom dote on her and play with her hair while she talked to us. Any other teen would have swatted her Mom’s hand away. But I feel like Sydney allowed it because she knew her Mom too went through something and knows she is lucky to be alive.
I loved listening to her talk about the doctors and procedures and how it really felt to go through all her treatment. And then I asked the question, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” Such an innocent question but as she answered, I felt a lump in my throat and the tears beginning to swell. So jealous that she can answer this question and how I craved being able to ask it of my own daughter. No matter how much I try to hide the pain, this family knows that no longer how much time has passed or how good I say I’m doing now – they really are the lucky ones. They are in fact sitting with a Mom who should have a daughter sitting along with us. Who knows, they could have even been friends.
Sydney immediately came to my side and put her arms around me and started to cry. It was so touching to me. I don’t know if she was crying because she was sad for me or sad for Isabella or wondering how she survived and Isabella didn’t. It could have been a number of things but I have to say that it has been years since someone touched me in that way. The hug lasted a long time. For those of you who know me – that means it was over 5 seconds. But his hug lasted for minutes. I tried to release her but she wouldn’t let go. It was if she knew I needed it. She was right.
I don’t know what Sydney’s life has ahead for her, but I know it’s going to be amazing. I’m excited to sit back and watch because this girl deserves every single minute of it and I know she will live it not only for her and her family but for some of those who didn’t get the chance to live it and I love that. It makes me think that while some weren’t meant to survive, she is one that was meant to live. Isabella’s birthday is in March. We can’t think of a better gift than to honor another child’s wish in honor of Isabella’s life.
It is our goal to raise $6,000 in 14 days for what would have been Isabella’s 14th birthday. 14 years old… just like Sydney. Last year, you helped us make Sydney’s wish to visit the Harry Potter museum in London come true. Sidney has finished treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and recently ‘Rang the Bell’ in December 2018 at Levine Children’s Hospital signifying the beginning of living life cancer free.
Make-A-Wish granted Isabella her wish and gave her the best days of her life. Make-A-Wish also gave her family the best memories of theirs. The positive impact wishes give to kids and their families are invaluable. Sydney and her family experienced the same.
We hope you will help us pass this on yet again. Please donate to help another child’s wish come true. Donations of all values will help us collectively reach the $6,000 fundraising goal and will be gifted to the Make-A-Wish foundation to go towards a child’s wish.