If given the chance to wish for anything in the world, many of us would choose something that we alone wanted. However, one 17-year-old girl was given just that opportunity, and chose a wish that would not only inspire her, but impact many other lives as well.
Doctor’s diagnosed Kaylee with cancer in January of 2013. Growing into her own as a teenager came with many ups and downs but this news was devastating for she and her family to hear. Kaylee immediately went from living the life of a normal teenage girl to long hours of chemotherapy, surgeries, and stays in the hospital.
Kaylee’s mom, Sherry, referred her daughter for a wish after the diagnosis, and one day shortly after, Make-A-Wish Volunteers visited Kaylee. They talked with her about the one thing that would absolutely be a dream come true for her. It was of course of big question for Kaylee and for several months she had no idea what she wanted to wish for. At some point, she decided that a cruise would be the perfect getaway for she and her family after months of battling cancer.
But then something clicked, and Kaylee realized that the reason it had been so hard for her to think of her wish was because she really wanted to use this awesome opportunity to do something greater. She decided that she wanted to use this special privilege to make a lasting impact.
Kaylee decided that her wish was to go to Malawi in East Africa and explore the hospital care of other kids. She would then compare what she learned to what she knew about healthcare here in the US. In April of 2016, Make-A-Wish Mid-South volunteers revealed to her that her wish had been granted.
One month later, Kaylee was on her way to Malawi to both learn and inspire others who were experiencing similar obstacles as she faced. Her dad got in contact with a doctor working for the largest hospital in Blantyre, Malawi named Queen Elizabeth.
Coincidentally, medical students at Harvard were also searching for more information on conditions at the same hospital and ways to help. After hearing about their needed research, Kaylee decided that she would gather as much information for them as possible on her visit.
This trip brought her family together in ways that they had not imagined possible. By having to adjust to a completely different culture, their bond became stronger than ever. Although they didn’t travel to a fancy island or experience the grand festivities of a cruise, Kaylee said that her wish being granted was the best thing that could have happened to her and her family.
“Going to Africa really brought my family together because we were all in the same situation,” Kaylee said. “It was a great experience for us.”
While overseas, she even had the opportunity to meet kids who were combating the same illness she was fighting. Kaylee was so thankful after realizing how treatment and health-care in other countries lack certain necessities that we take for granted here in America. She believes that being aware of those conditions and being able to spread this information to others to help progress the environment was an eye-opening experience.
“Being able to meet and talk to the kids in Africa who were going through what I had just made me feel really blessed,” Kaylee said.
If she were given the chance to choose another wish, Kaylee says she would live hers over again.
Kaylee pictured with a doctor and nurse in the Malawi hospital
Kaylee with a family in the Malawi hospital
Kaylee and her family on a safari
Kaylee and her sister in front of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital
If I would’ve done something other than this, it would have been a fun experience. But this trip impacted me in a whole different way because it grew me, and gave me a lasting impact rather than just temporary fun.
Kaylee, wish kid