Back in December 2014, the PatientsLikeMe community donated 450,000 health data points during the 24 Days of Giving campaign, and a special thanks to everyone who participated and have continued to donate their data for good. Every donation made wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions, and on behalf of the community, PatientsLikeMe made a $20,000 donation to Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which helped Keith and Scarlett take a break from aggressive and uncomfortable treatments and doctors’ visits to go on faraway adventures with their families. Read about their stories below:
When 17-year-old Keith was diagnosed with lymphoma, his life was forever changed. Instead of fishing and playing sports, like he used to before he got sick, he now spends time in hospitals, enduring uncomfortable treatments. Keith longed to take a break from doctor’s visits and have a carefree vacation with his family; he wished to tour the Hawaiian Islands with his family on a Norwegian Cruise.
The PatientsLikeMe community made this happen! Once aboard the cruise ship, the crystal clear waters mesmerized Keith, as they took him to the Hawaiian islands of Kahului, Hilo, Kona, and Nawiliwili. Each new island provided a new world to explore. Keith and his family enjoyed pristine beaches, volcano views, whale watching and deep sea fishing.
Keith’s trip renewed his strength and hope for the future. He told Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, “if you think about all the people who are emotionally going through so much because of what you’re going through, you become stronger than you can ever imagine. It shows your loved ones that there’s nothing to worry about.”
Thank you for donating your data and helping to give Keith and his family a vacation of a lifetime.
Though diagnosed with a brain tumor, three-year-old Scarlett wished to visit the TradeWinds Island Resort in Florida to explore the sea and the surf like her cartoon friends in her favorite movie, “Finding Nemo.” Scarlett and her family began their trip with a limousine ride to the airport. Upon arriving in sunny Florida, Scarlett tossed off her shoes to wiggle her toes around in the sand. She swam or built sandcastles on every beach – there was plenty for her to discover both in and out of the water. She even got to ride a giant waterslide and tried eating alligator meat at dinner.
Scarlett smiled all week long and her family savored quality time together. She had a week of carefree childhood. Scarlett’s mom and dad really enjoyed reminders of their daughter’s adventurous spirit.
Scarlett’s mom, Michelle, wanted to share with the caregiving community a few tips on coping with a young child who has a serious illness. Here’s what she shared:
When we were going through Scarlett’s treatment, people said to us ‘I don’t think I could do it’ and I always said to them ‘When you have to do something, you find a way.’ What were we going to do? Lay in bed and pull the covers over our heads? I would say:
- Don’t be afraid to accept any help that is offered (or ask for help) and don’t think people can read your mind. If someone asked, “What can I do?” I asked for specific things like “come keep us company during infusion weekends in the hospital” or asked for clothes when I was so stressed out that I lost weight and clothes for Scarlett after her surgery when she couldn’t pull a shirt on over her head.
- For couples – let one person be the emotional support and the other be the physical support. My husband is a nurse so he took care of making sure she drank plenty of water and ate plenty of fiber. I made sure that we still went to the park and birthday parties and lived life as normally as possible.
- My husband’s advice – drink prune juice and lots of water. Believe it or not, we probably saved her kidneys by giving her syringes filled with water all day when she didn’t want to drink. We kept her regular by giving her prune juice every day. Simple but very important.
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