On Wednesday, June 20th, I visited Oakland Children’s Hospital. Their social worker and child life specialist, Wendy and Suzanne, kindly met Mom and I in the lobby and gave us a tour of the hospital. What will always stand out about my time at Oakland Children’s is the time I spent with Tate and Carina… two very brave and strong children who have just begun treatment. The term “meaningful” falls far short of what it means to me to be able to give back to these children what a survivor named Rachel did for me when I was at the beginning of my treatment. To see Rachel healthy, happy, and radiant, made me realize what my goal was. It made me realize my goal to get well was possible. It made me HOPE that I would one day be able to pass on the HOPE she gave to me. At that terrible time in my life, I needed HOPE.
Day Four Hope Tour Video
Mom and I hopped into Herbert the HopeMobile when we finished at Oakland Children’s Hospital and pointed him north, in the direction of Oregon. I have never been to Oregon before, so I was excited to see what it was like. We had a long drive through very hot California farmlands before we finally began seeing trees and snow-capped mountains. As we neared the no-man’s-land in the sweltering farmlands, Mom thought it would be best if we made a “Potty-Stop” before there were no more potties to be found. As a rule, we usually avoid the dreaded gas station potties, but when they are the only choice… you have to go for it! The man behind the counter gave me a bit of the willies, but I gathered my courage and asked him for the key. We discovered the bathroom outside, and turned the key with the long pipe attached before entering. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried to pull the key from the doorknob, it would not budge. Can you picture me with one foot on the door, one on the ground, and both hands pulling on the key as hard as I could? We ended up walking back in to Mr. Willie, apologizing for getting the key stuck in the door… and we were off once again.
What a welcome sight Mt. Shasta was, and what a welcome sight Medford, Oregon was, after a long day. In Medford, we had quite the challenge navigating. There were lots of loopy roads! The air was filled with fluffies—I believe they were from trees. The parking lot of the Rogue Regency Inn (who very generously provided our complimentary hotel room) was filled with a huge variety of cars from a car show.
The next morning, we were up and on the road again, on our way to Portland. It was a beautiful drive. One thing I learned about Oregon that I never knew before is that it is against the law to pump your own gas. Thank you to Make-A-Wish for alerting us to this; there is a $10,000 fine if we pump it ourselves! My cousin, Kylie, lives in Portland. She picked us up after we arrived at our hotel and gave us a tour of the city. Thanks Kylie for all of the laughs and all the fun we had together!
We rose early on Thursday morning to meet Kemp from Make-A-Wish and Maegan, Public Relations Specialist from Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. Randall Children’s Hospital is a brand new hospital that just opened, and I was amazed by all they have done to make the hospital a great place for kids. There were school rooms, little sleigh-like wagons, places for families to gather, and even a work-out room. In my tour of the hospital, I was delighted to meet several pediatric nurses who had recently shaved their heads to raise money for St. Baldrick’s and childhood cancer research. Once again, visiting with the children was the very best part of the day. Maegan arranged interviews with two TV stations and a radio station. I am grateful to the media in Portland for bringing attention the outstanding work at Randall Children’s Hospital and for helping to raise awareness about childhood cancer.
On June 23, we hit the road again. Herbert the HopeMobile drove through the rain northward to Bellevue, Washington where we checked into our hotel. It was one of those “comfy car” days, where Mom and I decided we needed to wear sweats that were as close to jammies as we could possibly get! Sheraton Bellevue provided our complimentary two night stay.
The incredible Make-A-Wish of Alaska/Washington has been working very, very hard on my wish. On our first full day in Washington, we dined atop the Space Needle with my cousins, Jane, Chelsea, and Caitlyn, and with long-time friends, Joey, Madisen, and Kim. The Space Needle went all out—not only providing an incredibly delicious meal, but also surprising me with a huge bag of Space Needle souvenirs! I loved our time together, and I am SO grateful to the Space Needle staff for their generosity! After our meal, we went out to the observation deck. We were very, very fortunate to have good weather, with a view that will stay in my mind’s-eye and in my heart for the rest of my days. The fun was not over. Once we descended, there was great entertainment—it was the day of the Pride Parade in Seattle that began and ended at the Space Needle.
Before I close for today, I want to thank Kemp and Maegan from Portland, for believing in my wish and for all of their kind and thoughtful support.