When Alexa was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor (kidney cancer), it seemed unreal. Despite the shocking news, we maintained our strength through positive prayers and a focus on living. Our journey was just that—a new direction in life, complete with anxiety, worry, prayers, support and love. I believe that each person’s journey is different and a personal choice. As a family, we chose to let our strengths guide us through our daughter’s diagnosis, treatments, surgeries, hospital stays and our new day-to-day life.
Unpredictability became our new normal. Alexa had lots of very good days where she went to school, played and ate just like she used to. We even went on vacations. Then it could all change in a moment. If Alexa spiked a fever it was off to the emergency room. If she was tired, it was off to sleep for a while. If her appetite changed, off to find some food she could tolerate. But what never changed was our attitude. We remained grateful for every moment, and still do.
When we were approached by Make-A-Wish® Southern Nevada about a wish for Alexa, we politely indicated that she was doing great and a wish wasn’t necessary. Although we had been involved with Make-A-Wish and had supported the organization, we never truly understood the power a wish come true could have on a wish kid and their family. Once we knew how much hope and strength a wish could bring, we were honored and excited for Alexa to let the dreaming begin.
Alexa decided she wanted to meet the cast of Disney’s Descendants 2 and go on the live movie set in Vancouver, Canada. When she discovered her wish was coming true, she was ecstatic but also very curious since this was a new experience for her — and us! From the moment a limo picked us up at our home to the moment it brought us back, we were blown away by everything that went into Alexa’s wish. We had no idea of what was involved until we were in the experience.
On the day of her wish, there were so many emotions. My heart melted seeing a joy in her eyes that I had never seen before. While Alexa never showed much stress during her treatments, I felt her sense of relief the second we arrived on the set.
One of the moments that will always be in my heart is when we left the movie set and the cast. We got in the limo and Joe and I were still smiling and expected the same of Alexa. Instead, she was very quiet so we left her to her thoughts. When we returned to our hotel room, Alexa cried and cried. She cried because she had felt so much love and happiness from the cast and everyone she was able to spend the day with, and she was sad to leave them. But they weren’t all sad tears. She also had a newfound fullness in her heart.
As a family, Alexa’s entire wish experience will forever be part of us. It was an experience of a lifetime and the timing was right when Alexa needed it most. She was just two months out from finishing chemo treatments and receiving clean scans. It was the perfect escape from the days of hospitals and medicine and we were able to just be us.
Being a part of the Make-A-Wish family means I am a wish mom and I love that. I love being Alexa’s mom. Mother’s day means everything to me. Without Alexa, I wouldn’t be a mom. It means I can celebrate my own amazing mom who demonstrated resilience my whole life—something I did not appreciate until I was an adult. Her strength as a mom to me and grandmother to Alexa, especially during her illness, was tremendous and selfless.
Honestly, I never thought I would be a mom and was ok with that as I grew up and matured. Now, I am beyond thankful to be a mom. I love it. I love the laughs we share, the memories we make, the stories we tell and I love feeling that love only a mother knows. I am truly blessed to be a mother to Alexa. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Living through Alexa’s diagnosis and her journey shed a new light on motherhood for me. I always believed we have different stories and paths in life and did my best to never be judgmental of other moms. But once I became a mom of a child with a life-threatening illness, there was an appreciation of what other moms may be going through and I feel an instant bond with them, even if we never utter a word to one another.
Being a mom can be really tough some days, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t remind myself how lucky I am to have Alexa in our lives and what a precious girl she is. She gave us, and so many others, the ability to fight and stay positive in difficult times. She is my hero.