My job is to join with these children and families on this life-changing journey and provide them with psychological support through every stage of their diagnosis, treatment and hopefully (but not always), cure. Every day when I go to work, I search inside myself and around me for the strength and the tools I will need to meet the unique needs of each patient and their family system. I work at trying to find ways to make them feel safe, ease their pain and suffering and no matter the situation, instill hope in their hearts.
I have personally witnessed the impact that a wish has on our kids and their families. A wish gives children the chance to dream and allows them to escape the harsh realities of cancer treatment that often elicits feelings of distress and anxiety. Giving children control and a voice during this time, when they have been taken out of their normal routine and no longer can make decisions regarding their own bodies or daily activities, is critical. These significant losses and changes in their lives often leads to feelings of hopelessness and loss of motivation. A wish can empower these children by letting them develop a vision and expressing their desires and giving them a chance to look towards something rewarding.
The therapeutic benefits of a wish are present in all stages of the process from the day they are referred until the day their wish comes true. A wish is one of the greatest sources of hope for these children as it gives them the opportunity to look beyond their illness and focus their energy on something positive and often life-changing.
As a medical psychologist in the world of pediatric oncology, I feel so grateful to have Make-A-Wish serve our patients. It provides me with an invaluable resource that I can offer to all of the patients under my care.
Thanks to Medical Psychologist, Brandee Aquilino, Psy. D, of Roswell Park and Oishei Children’s Hospital for writing in about the healing power of wishes for families faced with the devastating diagnosis of a critical illness.