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Saskia, along with her family, is no stranger to hardships. She was just a child when she lost her father to a sudden heart attack, and soon after that shock, her family was dealt another blow when Saskia was diagnosed with lupus at just 10 years of age. Lupus is an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to become overactive and fight when it shouldn’t. The disease wreaked havoc on Saskia’s body, causing arthritis, swelling, kidney disease, and fatigue so bad, that she couldn’t stay awake past 8 p.m.
There’s no doubt that young Saskia struggled in dealing with the effects of lupus. Perhaps one of the biggest emotional factors from this ordeal was that from age 10 to 13, her growth remained stunted, leading people to believe she was younger than her identical twin sister. “Her twin wasn’t sick, and the girls went from looking so much alike that nobody knew who was who, to people saying that Saskia was the little sister,” says Saskia’s mother. “And that hurt her more than you can imagine – she was angry and frightened.”
Saskia was referred to Make-A-Wish® by a social worker at the hospital, early on in her treatment. “We needed an emotional lift for her to be able to take advantage of her physical recovery,” says Saskia’s mother. “I tried to keep her wish smaller, but Saskia wished to go to the Galápagos!”
Looking back, Saskia’s mother recalls feeling nervous about the scope of her daughter’s wish. “I researched the average cost of a wish and tried to keep her from disappointment,” she says. “But when we met her wish granter, she realized I was trying to reduce Saskia’s dreams and made me turn around, then asked Saskia again about what she really wanted.”
Once again, Saskia reaffirmed that she wished to go to the Galápagos Islands.
“Saskia has always loved the great outdoors – she values the environment and she’s relentlessly curious,” says Saskia’s mother. “She values wild spaces, adventure and logic… and the Galápagos has all of that.”
The magic of Saskia’s wish was not just that it gave her hope, but it finally restored her faith that good things could happen – even to her – and it was healing for the whole family.
Today, Saskia is a bright young woman, with big dreams. She is studying international economics at UBC (University of British Columbia), and when she was 18, she ran an ultramarathon across the Kalahari Desert in Botswana for water rights. According to her mother, “Saskia is absolutely determined and is taking on the world.”