Shelby's wish is a dream come true

Shelby was 17-years-old and living with thyroid cancer when she heard about Make-A-Wish. Her oncologist suggested she might qualify for a wish, but Shelby says, “I didn’t even believe her until someone from the Foundation contacted my family.” An avid country music fan and horseback rider, Shelby had dreamed of going to Australia. “I always wanted to see the ocean somewhere other than Canada and I love the idea of the 'Outback',” she says. In the fall of 2012, she and her family took the trip of a lifetime to Cairns and Sydney, Australia.

“It was a much-needed vacation for my family, to relieve stress from the previous year and everything that we had to deal with. I loved not only experiencing the ocean on horseback, but also to be able to see it out on a boat and go to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. To visit the Daintree rainforest, and the zoo to see animals native to their country. We did some traveling along the coast to each activity that was planned for us every day. We even got to swim in a natural ‘pool’ that was home to a Platypus! To see the different scenery was beautiful compared to the prairies I grew up in, in Alberta. We visited the Opera House and saw the Sydney Harbor Bridge! My mom took a picture of me and my sister holding our local newspaper in front of the Opera house and we were published in the paper when we got home!”

For Shelby, the trip was an opportunity her family wouldn’t have otherwise had. They had never left the country together before, or travelled so far. “I never would have imagined traveling across the world with my family to celebrate what was not only such a large impact on our lives, but to be able to celebrate that I had won the fight over cancer.”

Now attending college as a psychology student, Shelby will be starting a social work program in the fall, and has worked as a primary early learning caregiver and a family support worker. She’s also celebrating 7 years since her diagnosis, and becoming cancer-free; her wish still resonates today. “I struggled a lot with my feelings and emotions, and sometimes I still do about the fact that I had cancer. I was always able to put on quite a brave face and experiencing a life-threatening illness is never easy on anyone. The wish was a way to release those emotions in a healthy way and forget about everything for 7 days. My trip to Australia reminded me how lucky I am to be where I am today.”

“Grateful. Thankful. Blessed beyond belief. I don’t have the words to say how I feel. I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and will forever be thankful.”

Photo by NAIT Photographic Technology

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