As a talented contortionist, 14-year-old Khulan is used to being upside down. But when she was diagnosed with a chronic, autoimmune gastrointestinal disorder in 2013, she found her whole world had been tilted on its axis.
For the first several years following her diagnosis, Khulan tried numerous medications and was hospitalized on multiple occasions as her doctors struggled to control her flare ups. In 2017, her health took a turn for the worse when she tried a new medication. Rather than helping control her symptoms, the new drug worsened her illness and triggered a rare side effect: Khulan suddenly lost her hair.
This was extremely challenging for Khulan as a middle school student, and traditional medical treatments weren’t yielding the symptom relief she needed. Her physician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital knew that wishes can be an integral part of treatment and referred Khulan to Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.
When Khulan found out that her one true wish would be coming true, she was able to stop dwelling so much on her illness and hair loss and focus her attention on something positive—preparing for a trip to Paris. “Her wish was important for her, especially during those difficult times,” says Khulan’s mom, Bayarjargal. “She had something to look forward to when she got better… Definitely there was a boost once the Make-A-Wish process started.”
Like many teenage girls, Khulan was drawn to the romance of Paris. She told her wish granters she was excited to sightsee, try new foods, learn about French culture, and take photos in front of the Eiffel Tower. While planning for the wish, Khulan did plenty of research and even took a class to learn French.
When Khulan’s family embarked on their trip, it was an opportunity for her to finally experience the Parisian wonders she’d dreamed of. It also gave the whole family a chance to reconnect and relax in a way they hadn’t been able to while enduring the financial and emotional burdens of Khulan’s treatment. Finally, the trip was a celebration of Khulan’s health, which had improved significantly since her wish referral in 2017.
Today, Khulan’s world has mostly righted. Her hair has grown back and she and her care team found a medication regimen that works to control her symptoms. She is back in school as a high school freshman and determined not to let her condition slow her down or keep her right side up! She’s back to doing what she loves most: competing with her contortionist group, which has even appeared on America’s Got Talent.