When Naomi was just 19 months old, she was diagnosed with high-risk leukemia. Her life as a toddler was upended by painful treatments, harsh medications, and long hospital stays.
When Naomi’s family learned about Make-A-Wish through a social worker, they decided to wait a while to begin the wish process. They worried that the wish granters would have trouble determining Naomi’s one true wish because of her young age.
“I did it! I did it!”
These were Naomi’s triumphant words on the day she received her final chemotherapy treatment. Now almost four years old, Naomi had been battling cancer for more than half of her young life. She was incredibly excited to have completed her treatment plan.
With Naomi reaching the end of her treatment and showing quite a profound understanding of her circumstances, her family decided it was finally time for her wish to come true. As they began to explain the idea to her, Naomi immediately knew what she wanted. Without any hesitation, she proudly announced: “I want an ice cream party!”
Although her wish sounds simple, the meaning behind it was incredibly significant. Not only was Naomi’s ice cream party her one true wish, but it also served as her end-of-treatment celebration and her fourth birthday party. Her family knew it would be a day they’d remember for the rest of their lives.
Naomi’s proclamation of “I did it!” became a rallying cry of sorts for the entire family. For her first day back at school, she donned a custom t-shirt her grandparents had created. It featured a photo of her on her last day of treatment, to which they had added the text “I did it!”.
Amazingly, with her treatment complete and her wish on the horizon, Naomi’s family and teachers began to notice an immediate improvement in her attitude. Once a shy and reserved student, she seemed to have brand new confidence and excitement for school. “It was just a complete one-eighty, the way that she was at school,” says Naomi's mother, Nina. “Her teachers noticed right away. She was just really, really proud of herself and happy.”
Nina had read stories about older wish kids who had been revitalized by thoughts of looking forward to their wish, but because of Naomi’s young age, she didn’t necessarily expect the same level comprehension from her. “I was really surprised that, at her age, she would understand it so well,” she says. “It was really nice to have this idea of a big celebration with the ice cream party. I think that she really connected the two, and it helped her a lot.”
In the weeks leading up to her ice cream party, Naomi’s excitement began to build. With her treatment complete, Naomi was happy to announce to anyone who would listen, “now I get to have an ice cream party!” She also called it her “no more medicine party.”
The day of Naomi’s wish was filled with her favorite things. The sunny San Francisco playground was overflowing with balloons, games, performers, pizza, cake, and of course, an ice cream bar.
“It was really gratifying to see that she was enjoying her wish,” says Nina, who says she was very inspired to see so many enthusiastic Make-A-Wish volunteers in attendance.
“Just seeing the volunteers there giving up their time to spend the whole day there, that was really nice to see,” she says.
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