Just days before her 16th birthday, Serena’s world was turned upside down. A few weeks prior, Serena was at cheer practice working on stunts just like any other day. She was accidentally hit in the neck, and a large lump formed almost immediately. Thinking it was only a cheer injury and nothing to worry about, Serena went on with life as usual, only to notice a few weeks later the lump still hadn’t gone away.
On May 1, 2014, Serena was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She remembers feeling nervous about what was ahead, but knew she had the support of her friends and family.
Before her wish, Serena spent almost every day in the doctor’s office receiving aggressive chemo treatments. To Serena, it was a routine that seemed to drag on forever.
Initially when wish volunteers came to her house, Serena didn’t fully grasp what was happening. She didn’t believe her wish was coming true and brushed off the idea as a “maybe”. That was until her surprise wish reveal, during a basketball halftime performance with her cheer squad, when she realized her one true wish was coming true!
Serena picked a wish her whole family could enjoy with her. “It was important to me that we got to enjoy this together, as they had been affected by my diagnosis just as much as I had,” she said. Serena also wanted to visit some place warm and tropical, preferably near the ocean with great beaches. After thinking through the things most important to her, Serena fashioned her perfect wish come true - Serena wished to go to Hawaii to learn how to surf!
Cancer-free in 2015, Serena’s wish was granted. She experienced a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii alongside her mom, dad, and brother. She said the trip was not only unforgettable, but it led to her dream job as a wish support coordinator with Make-A-Wish® Southern Nevada.
Serena is now 20 years old and will be five years cancer free in November. Alongside her work at Make-A-Wish, she is currently pursuing a nursing degree at the College of Southern Nevada. She said she feels lucky to see the other side of the wish granting process and to give the same experience to other wish kids.
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