Make-A-Wish Japan Article

Winter 2003

The following article appeared in the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio's newsletter. It is reprinted for you to read below.

Make-A-Wish Japan ArticleIt came as no surprise to family and friends when Christi announced her wish. The profoundly gifted, six- year old, taught herself to read fluently when she was four years old, had skipped a grade in school, and was very excited about learning Japanese. Suddenly Christi's world came crashing to a sudden halt when she was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer, and given an extremely poor prognosis - Neuroblastoma.

Christi loves Pokemon and Hello Kitty (both Japanese!) as well as doing origami, calligraphy and having Japanese tea ceremonies, and over the years, Christi's family has hosted five Japanese exchange students and teachers. Christi had already been to Disneyland and Disney World so she did some research and discovered Disney Sea - located in Tokyo. When her oncologist suggested to the family that now was the time for her to go on her Make-A-Wish trip, Christi responded with "I want to go to Japan!!!"

Christi was just finishing a Phase One Experimental Study and in a matter of weeks needed to be back to continue more treatment. To plan a huge international trip like this one should have been overwhelming, but the Make-A-Wish staff simply rolled up their sleeves and took immediate action, making it happen seemingly overnight.

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After being picked up in a white limousine and a flawless flight, Christi's family arrived in Tokyo, Japan where yet another Make-A-Wish Chapter (Tokyo) was waiting to greet and to assist them. "Tears fell out of my eyes knowing that total strangers were so giving of their time to ensure we were safe and settled in this foreign country."

The following morning, one of their former Japanese teacher friends arrived at the hotel to take them to Sanrio Puroland. Despite fighting jet-lag, Christi and her family had a most enjoyable time in this state-of-the-art indoor amusement park featuring - Hello Kitty. The family then enjoyed a traditional Japanese meal sitting on the floor and eating with chopsticks in bustling downtown Tokyo.

The second day in Japan, the family of four thoroughly enjoyed what Christi described as Disney's best park yet Disney Sea. As the evening fireworks streamed down the sky, tears again streamed down mother Angela's face when- she realized that two kind Japanese women standing behind them were holding their umbrellas over her American children to keep them dry while the rain fell upon them. "As I reflected upon the day and the goodness of God's great people helping us in the most difficult days we now live in, it was overwhelming to realize how blessed we've been despite the wicked beast of cancer that thrives inside our beloved little girl." The next day it was off to Tokyo Disneyland where the family enjoyed another fabulous day being together in a beautiful foreign country, riding the rides and not focusing on their daughter's terminal illness and what lie ahead, but instead concentrating on the sisters' beautiful laughter and captivating, endless smiles.

Christi and her family then flew to Sapporo in northern Japan - and home of three of the their former college exchange students. Upon landing, they were greeted by yet a FOURTH Make-A-Wish Chapter - Sapporo, Japan. Christi and her little sister, Shayla, again performed their bowing and "Knoweichia's" (nice to meet you) to all those waiting to assist them.

During their first day in Sapporo, Christi's family was met by another of their former exchange students who took them to Noboribetsu - home of the Japanese hot springs, known for their healing powers. There they had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of bathing in the volcanic hot springs.

"We've never seen her so happy," said Christi's father Shayne. "Our sincerest thanks and appreciation to Make-A-Wish for allowing our family the chance to enjoy a fabulous time far, far away from the daily medical treatments that our precious daughter has been subjected to for the past ten months." Just twenty-four hours after arriving back in New York City, Christi was wheeled into the operating room for a life threatening surgery to attempt to remove the tumor from around her heart and along her spine. As the high risk surgery was being conducted, Christi's parents sat in the waiting room putting their photographs into albums, reminiscing about the most wonderful trip one could have ever imagined embarking upon, and thanking the Lord for angels on earth - The Make-A-Wish Foundation, for allowing it all to happen.

Story courtesy of Angela, Christi's Morn
Special Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of
Metro New York and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Japan.