Nicholas, also known as "Iron Man," has been battling for his life for the last four years. His mother nicknamed him “Iron Man" for his strength, persistence and overall "ability to overcome anything,” but “life with disease is impossibly hard, even for a boy who is made of iron,” says his mom, Kim.
Beginning with a leukemia diagnosis, Nicholas' medical journey has been an arduous one. He spent three weeks in a medically-induced coma, underwent six months of chemotherapy, received a stem cell transplant, and was kept in isolation to protect his fragile immune system. After many months on edge, Nicholas was proclaimed cancer-free, but the more challenges lay ahead. Following the stem cell transplant, he contracted Graft Vs Host disease, which impacts his internal organs, skin and digestive tract, particularly his liver and lungs. Although Kim says he doesn’t complain, Nicholas' ongoing medical challenges sent him into a depression.
After having to delay his wish and other fun activities numerous times for medical reasons, he got used to being disappointed. But when word came that his wish trip to Disney World was finally cleared, “his depression miraculously seemed to just go away. His health seemed to keep improving too!,” say his parents.
"When the special card arrived in the mail letting Nicholas know that his wish… was really going to come true, his whole face lit up. For the first time in a very long time, my son was smiling and happy."
The wish “was a beacon of hope and light in a sometimes very dark and painful life of a 15-year-old boy. It was the thing that pulled him up and out of this funk and gave him something to look forward to. The hospital visits and procedures seemed a little less daunting and he had an overall better view on the future. During the trip, I don’t think he felt any more pain.”
The entire family, in fact, felt the weight of his illness being lifted by the trip. “As a family, we have gone through his illness together. It has impacted us all.” Being able to enjoy not only the Magic Kingdom together, but Sea World and Universal studios, “brought us together in a magical and miraculous way.”
Wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival.* Says Kim, to people like you who support Make-A-Wish: “you don’t just grant wishes, you help give children their life back. There is no price you can put on what you do.”
* Shoshani, A. Mifano, K. Czamanski-Cohen, J. (2015). The effects of the Make-A-Wish intervention on psychiatric symptoms and health-related quality of life of children with cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Quality of Life Research, 25(5), 1209-1218. doi 10.1007/s11136-015-1148-7