One might describe Make-A-Wish® kid Gillian as a typical teenager with hobbies like watching Netflix, spending hours on social media, and listening to Justin Bieber. While she enjoys those things, she also has a constant need to explore the outdoors and the greater world.
A softball player, Gillian noticed a lump on the side of her face; her doctors sent her to UCLA for a 12-hour surgery. The lump was benign, yet the mass was intertwined with facial nerve, which was bruised during the operation. Five months later, the lump had returned…this time it was larger, and Gillian was diagnosed with cancer. During a second 15-hour surgery to remove the lump, doctors learned that her facial nerve was cancerous, as well. The plastic surgeon took nerve and body fat from her leg and supplanted it in her face; this was the first of 5 reconstructive surgeries.
Through her exhaustive hospital visits battling the cancerous invasion on her salivary glands, Gillian’s sister Sara provided a ray of light by introducing her to Make-A-Wish. With a life-long dream of visiting Australia—stemming from a 4th grade project—her Wish Granters joined Gillian’s family in offering her strength and courage…and the granting of her one true wish.
Gillian’s wish to visit the Gold Coast came true in August 2016, with an incredible itinerary to visit Down Under. She and her family stayed in a modern apartment in Surfers Paradise, and her wish trip included snorkeling, a helicopter ride, a Sea World dolphin encounter, and a day at Movie World theme park. No Aussie vacation would be complete without seeing kangaroos or snuggling with a koala, and Gillian’s ultimate outdoor moment took place at Paradise Country, the ultimate Australian farm experience.
“I was able to experience things I never would have imagined experiencing, with people that have such a big impact on my life and are part of my cancer experience," shares Gillian. "The wish allowed me to see the best in people and know that there are such good people out there who are looking to help others.”