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Five-year-old Izel has been through a lot in her young life. She was diagnosed with Wilms tumour — a rare kidney cancer — when she was only 15 months old. After surgery to remove her right kidney and three months of chemotherapy, her family hoped for the best.
But two years later, more tumours were discovered. Izel had to endure aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, blood transfusions and multiple surgeries. Throughout her long hospital stays and many setbacks, watching dance videos on YouTube made Izel feel better.
“I found these Saskia’s Dansschool videos online and Izel loved them. She would dance along whenever she was strong enough,” says Izel’s mom, Rachelle.
Sometimes Izel’s parents, and other patients and their families joined in. When she was finally well enough to leave the hospital, even the nurses and doctors joined in and danced with Izel.
Rachelle remembers sitting beside Izel’s hospital bed — there were tubes going in and out everywhere — when a nurse first brought up the idea of applying for a wish for Izel. “I said I thought wishes were only for children who were really sick. The nurse said, ‘Izel is really sick’.”
Izel dreamed of performing with the dancers in the videos she so loved. Imagine her excitement when her wish became a reality. Eventually Izel was well enough to travel to the Netherlands where Saskia’s Dansschool is located. “Everything about the trip was magical, including getting prepared for it,” says Rachelle. “Izel wanted to get unicorn hair, so we both got green, pink and purple highlights. It was such a special mommy-daughter moment.”
The dance troupe prepared a routine with some of Izel’s favourite moves. After rehearsing with them in the morning, Izel joined the other dancers on stage.
When Izel took centre stage, decked out in her matching dance costume and unicorn-coloured hair, the crowd erupted. Her most heartfelt wish of performing with her favourite dance troupe had just come true.
Izel wore her dance costume everywhere for the rest of the trip and even performed the choreography on the flight back home. “She will remember this for the rest of her life,” says Rachelle. “I am so grateful to everyone who made it happen.”
When a wish is granted, it does much more than bring joy to a child’s heart. For wish kids like Izel, who are faced with critical illnesses, a wish-come-true provides them with strength to battle through darkness and hope for healthier, happier days ahead.
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