Every month, Make-A-Wish highlights some of the kids who have found change and renewal in their wish experience. But the best person to tell Melissa’s story … is Melissa herself. She will take you from the difficult days of her diagnosis and treatment to her celebration of life in France. Enjoy Melissa’s story in her own words. And be sure to check out her video and slideshow, plus a few words from her mother and stepfather.
Finding the lump. As some of you may know, this is one of the most-terrifying experiences a person can endure. And it was the most life-altering experience of my life, as well. Surviving Hodgkin lymphoma was a miracle in itself, but the opportunities Make-A-Wish provided me made living that much more magnificent at the end of my journey.
Battling Hodgkin lymphoma was all about positive thinking and perseverance. There were days when there were tears, and days of laughter. I think I had some of the best days of my life when I thought I was dying. This, in a way, is ironic in itself.
But when I heard about Make-A-Wish, I knew it was just another reason to keep pushing forward to the finish line.
Renewal and Relaxation for the Entire Family
Along with the thought of a luxurious getaway, I knew my family needed a break and a chance to enjoy life again, as well. We all did. I thank Make-A-Wish from the bottom of my heart for all the beautiful memories they provided for my family. Visiting France was a celebration of life, and it’s a celebration I will never forget.
Deciding on my wish was difficult. I felt like I was getting one wish from a genie and I didn’t want to mess it up. But when I thought about where I’d always wanted to go, it didn’t take much time for me to decide. I love France. And ever since I started taking French in school I’ve only been enthralled with the idea of visiting someday. So, there’s where I chose to go – France. But I wanted to see two different cultures of France and not just the touristy places; I’m glad I was able to visit both Paris and Nice.
The trip was absolutely breathtaking in all aspects of the word. The culture was fantastic, the food was incredible and the sights were amazing. We visited Paris for three days following Nice through the tour company Monograms, which was great. In Paris, we ate and did the usual touristy sightseeing activities. I loved going through the Metro system because it was so different from anything I’d ever seen. Of course, one of my favorite parts of Paris would have to be dining in the Eiffel Tower. It’s just a bucket list kind of experience that is hard to describe, but absolutely magnificent to experience. I loved eating at all the cafés and speaking French, thanks to my four years of education. The culture was one of my favorite parts – I loved translating for my family and it made me feel important, like I was an expert.
Embracing the Cultures
When we went to Nice the views were spectacular, as well. The biggest difference between the two cities was the cultural influence; Paris was modern, similar to New York. In Nice, it was like an Italian-French beach getaway. There were markets and gorgeous sunsets. We walked everywhere and went on tours – a visit to Monaco, a tour of a perfume factory we got custom-made French perfume. I loved swimming and parasailing in the Mediterranean Sea, as well. My twin sister and I used our souvenir money to get two dresses from the shopping center by the Arc de Triumph at a store called Morgan’s, where I also got a jacket.
I have only good things to say about my trip and my experiences – and I thank you, Make-A-Wish, for all those wonderful memories on this wonderful trip.
Thank you so much for helping kids like me who fight these life-threatening diseases. You bring us only hope and joy in times that are of the contrary. Thank you very much.
Each year, 10,000 kids like Melissa travel with their families for a Make-A-Wish experience. They need your air miles. Donate your miles in April and help grant life-changing wishes this summer.