The best-case scenario for Ayesha was that she would live to the age of 16. Today, she considers herself proof of the power of hope.
Ayesha was in kindergarten when she was diagnosed with cancer. She can still page through the family diary to find the date and time. Her parents took her straight to a hospital to start her treatment. Her prognosis wasn’t optimistic: she was expected to live another six months. And even if she did go into remission, her family was told to expect a relapse at some point. Living past her high school years verged on the impossible.
“No one ever left me alone, and I would cry and tell him [my dad] I didn’t want to die,” Ayesha says.
During one of the low points for her family, they contacted Make-A-Wish. Ayesha wished to go the Walt Disney World® Resort.
“It was going to be our last trip as a family. To think about it that way was terrifying,” Ayesha says.
She remembers perching on her father’s shoulders to wait for the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride. More importantly, she recalls how at ease her family seemed. They seemed so normal for once, with no thoughts of radiation, chemotherapy or hospital visits looming over them.
“Everything felt right, and everything fell into place and everything was perfect,” Ayesha says. “My dad said he didn’t realize how compassionate people could be until this trip. It truly was magical. I mean, I ate ice cream every day for breakfast.”
Today, Ayesha’s wish lives in her daily life: She works for Disney in its online travel department. And she is now a wish-granting volunteer – a perfect fit since her experience as a cancer patient gives her empathy and insight to authentically bond with kids facing fear, stress and doubt that are very familiar to her.
“I’ve lived 15 years longer than what they thought I would live to, so don’t ever give up,” Ayesha says. “My parents didn’t … they kept hoping and wishing. That’s what Disney is all about – hopes and wishes and dreams coming true.”
Disney has supported Make-A-Wish since the very first official wish, granting more than 100,000 wishes globally and counting. The connection between Disney and Make-A-Wish continues to grow as wish kids become cast members, cast members become volunteers, and much more!