I wish to have a goldendoodle puppy

Lena

14

lymphoma

lena with her puppy

While the past year has been difficult for most everyone, it was especially challenging for 14-year-old Lena.

In 2019, she suddenly began to rapidly lose weight. At first, Lena and her parents weren’t concerned–she had recently begun eating healthier and had joined the color guard at school, which involved a lot of exercise. But the next month her period stopped, and her weight loss became more alarming.

“I brought her to the doctor, and he started to do tests, labs, ultrasounds, everything,” says her mother, Shabnam. But doctors didn’t find anything physically wrong with her. Concerned, they referred her to a psychologist—they suspected she may be suffering from anorexia nervosa.

“I disagreed, because I know my child and I was sure it was not the reason,” says Shabnam. When the psychologist found no cause for concern, and with Lena continuing to suffer, the family was in desperate need of answers.

One day, Lena arrived at the doctor’s office with an alarmingly high heart rate. She was hospitalized and run through another gauntlet of tests. This time, doctors were able to diagnose her.

“At three in the morning, they came into the room, woke us up, and said to sit down,” says Shabnam. “They said she had cancer and it was all over her stomach.”

Lena was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “In one night, she was a healthy girl, and it changed to cancer,” says Shabnam. “It was so hard.” She’d need to start aggressive chemotherapy treatment immediately, and doctors predicted she could face up to three years of intensive treatment.

Treatment was hard, but Lena was incredibly strong. She would spend periods of seven to 10 days receiving chemotherapy treatment and suffered painful side effects which kept her hospitalized even longer. “Chemo was pretty tough. I had some bad side effects, and I couldn’t eat for a couple months,” Lena says. “But throughout the whole thing, it wasn’t as hard as I thought cancer would be, honestly. It wasn’t scary to me.”

In one night, she was a healthy girl, and it changed to cancer. It was so hard.
Lena's mom, Shabnam

And even during the hardest parts of treatment, if she was strong enough to walk, Lena would be there at church, worshipping alongside her family.

Thankfully, Lena’s body responded much quicker than expected to treatment. After five months, she was declared cancer-free. For two amazing months, she was back to school and her regularly scheduled life—spending time with friends, playing piano, and participating in church functions. Then COVID-19 hit, and her life had to be put on hold yet again.

For Lena, the new shelter-in-place restrictions were bad news on top of a year full of bad news. She’s incredibly social, so it was hard for her to once again be forced into isolation. “Her first interest is spending time with friends,” explains Shabnam. “You can imagine that COVID-19 is so hard for her.”

lena and shabnam with coco

But one bright spot in Lena’s year was her wish. “I spent so much time thinking about what my wish would be and that really did help take my mind off everything,” she says. After much contemplation, Lena decided she’d wish to have a puppy. “I’ve always wanted one,” she explains, “and in quarantine everything got really lonely and boring.”

Lena had spent many months researching dog breeds and eventually decided that a goldendoodle would be the perfect companion for her. “They are very smart dogs,” she explains. “Since I am living in an apartment, I wanted a dog that could be trained easily. I read that they were very good, loving family dogs. And very cute too!”

When Lena found out that her wish would be coming true, she finally had something to look forward to. “She was so happy,” says Shabnam. “She was waiting, counting the days.”

Lena named her new companion Coco, after the brand of cereal to which she bears a resemblance. “It’s been awesome,” says Lena. “She’s a sweetheart! She’s friendly and very sweet toward all the humans she meets.”

Coco is a first pet for the entire family, and she’s settling in incredibly well. “It was a big change for all of us,” says Shabnam. “I was against having pets, but right now, you cannot believe it… Coco is sleeping in my bed with me! It’s amazing.”

Since seeing Lena’s wish come to life, Shabnam has been recommending Make-A-Wish to all her friends. “You can help in any way,” she says. “You can make life easier, happier. For us, it was a really big support.”

In a time of so much uncertainty, your support is essential. Help us bring joy to kids like Lena. Your contribution means we will be ready to grant more children their wish when they need it the most, bringing them the strength they need to battle their illness.

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