Kelly Bauer remembers seeing her mom and everyone in the room crying when they found out her sister Becky had leukemia. But they were tears of joy because Becky’s form of the disease had a good prognosis and several options for treatment. Nonetheless, the illness had a profound impact on Kelly and the rest of the family. It also qualified her for a wish. This is Becky’s wish story, as told by Kelly:
I was 10 when Becky was diagnosed. In my 4th grade writing class, when we were learning about nouns and verbs, I wrote a story called ‘Methotrexate Toxicity,’ detailing an allergic reaction Becky had to her chemo. A classmate came up to me and told me my story was too scary for her to read. This took me by surprise because that was just our life. That was our reality.
Over the next two years, I remember countless trips to the ER, staying with friends for sleepovers on school nights while my parents were at the hospital, accompanying Becky to all sorts of appointments and becoming all too familiar with the 3rd floor pediatric oncology wing. I knew the drill when we reached the ‘do not cross’ line which separates the visitor ward from the sterile hall. That’s where I waved goodbye to Becky while the surgeons took her gurney and wheeled her away.
When Becky received a wish, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I saw her huge smile and her eyes light up at the prospect of it, and that’s all I needed to see. On the first day of the wish, we rode to the airport in a limo, met an amazing wish team, went shopping in Beverly Hills with our mom and watched every Lindsay Lohan movie we could possibly think of.
My parents beamed as hair and makeup artists with curling irons and blush surrounded Becky, instead of the usual team of nurses with butterfly needles and chemo orders. When Becky was given her director’s chair, I saw her smile burst into an excited laugh for the first time in two years. I also saw my parents relaxed, at ease and happy to be celebrating a joyous occasion with the family. We also had the great privilege of meeting two other wish families, who had been through extraordinary journeys of their own. We were able to share an instant bond and comradery over the shared understanding of living through a life-threatening illness as a family.
"Watching Becky be treated as a movie star, and not a patient, was the moment our transition into a ‘normal’ post-cancer life became real.”
Postscript: Kelly and Becky are now 26 and 24, respectively. They recently shared their perspectives on Becky’s wish at a Make-A-Wish event. Kelly is currently working as a clinical research supervisor and managing clinical trials at UCSF, examining the safety and efficacy of new drugs and drug combinations in oncology. She says, “I’m hoping to continue pursuing a career in medicine and healthcare, which is a dream that has been inspired by our experience with Becky’s illness.”
After graduating from Duke University, Becky joined McKinsey & Company to work in management consulting for 2 years. She is now working with Make-A-Wish corporate partner Airbnb for the next year before heading to Stanford Business School to pursue an MBA.
Kelly (left) and Becky now.