Mikayla wasn’t old enough to walk when she was diagnosed with liver cancer. Her parents, Mylene and Ryan, just knew something was wrong when a strange bulge appeared in her side, and Mylene’s mom, a nurse, told them to take Mikayla to the hospital.
After a number of tests, the doctor told them their infant daughter had cancer. “We were scared. Anyone who says that word, you automatically think they’re going to be gone,” says Mylene. Baby Mikayla spent the next six months in the hospital, going through five rounds of chemotherapy. She was scheduled for a liver transplant on Ryan’s birthday, but the tumor that had been growing there was removed, and her liver saved.
Mikayla learned to walk while pushing her feeding tube, but her parents say she has always been a “really happy, happy girl.” So happy, in fact, that she cries tears of joy whenever anyone sings Happy Birthday for her.
Mylene and Ryan never thought their daughter would one day have a wish. It was a co-worker of Mylene’s, in fact, who referred them to Make-A-Wish in the first place. And although they were surprised she qualified and hesitant to accept the wish, that one act of referring a child turned out to have surprising benefits for her whole family.
Mikayla’s pet turtle, named Magic, gave Mikayla the inspiration for her wish: to swim with turtles in Hawaii. She’d been to the beach before, but had never swum in the ocean. Her dad had never been outside California. Until her wish came true, she asked her parents every single day, “are we going yet? Are we going to see the turtles?” In Hawaii, Mikayla had many firsts, but one that amazed her parents was seeing her snorkel the whole length of the beach with her guide, looking for turtles.
There’s a photo from their trip of Mikayla kissing a dolphin, with a big smile on her face. It always makes Mylene cry happy tears. She also cries when asked about how the wish has impacted her daughter. “It just gives her more hope. She’s more confident. She looks at the scars left by her cancer and says ‘I’m a superhero!’”
For Ryan, the wish made him realize “there are still good people out there.” It began with a referral. When you refer a child with a critical illness to us, you help them—and their family—see the world differently: with confidence, hope and with a newfound sense of what’s possible. We are only reaching a little more than half of the children who qualify for a wish. Help us reach the rest.
Refer a child today