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Zahra's guest blog
11-year-old Zahra is the sister of wish child, Sophia, who recently had her wish granted 'to eat lots and lots of chocolate'. Zahra loves creative writing and so jumped at the chance to write a guest blog for us. We know that a critical illness doesn't just affect the wish child but the wider family - so it was really special to hear how Zahra has used her creativity to cope with the pressures of supporting her ill sibling.
My little sister Sophia, a born fighter, was diagnosed with heart failure when she was only 10 weeks old. As her eldest sibling I have often struggled emotionally to come to terms with the severity of her life limiting condition, because it has affected every part of my family life and my childhood.
My mum spends a lot of time in hospital when Sophia becomes unwell. Even though she is now two years post heart transplant, Sophia’s life revolves around appointments, medical procedures, and admissions to hospital, to keep her healthy and well.
My mum and dad have to pay extra attention to Sophia on a daily basis and often it can feel very stressful when Sophia becomes unwell because it makes me anxious and worried that her heart might be failing again.
I have learnt to talk about my feelings to keep my mind healthy and I particularly enjoy creative writing which has helped me develop coping skills and makes me resilient.
One of the things that helped me to do this was when I enrolled on a creative writing course when I was eight. It was run by Bright Young Minds and initially it was a means of self-expression to help me cope with Sophia's journey from cardiac intensive care to multiple admissions before and after her transplant.
Back then, I struggled to talk about my sister's illness and my mum was always in hospital caring for Sophia, but I'm really pleased my mum encouraged me to write. I utilised writing as a tool to explore my feelings, especially during periods of my mum's absence. Now I’ve had my first story book published and selling it is helping to raise money for other poorly children.
Another thing that’s helped is to stay active. I am now a brown belt in Shotokan Karate - an amazing martial art that has helped me to focus and build my confidence and self-esteem.
We have not been on holiday since Sophia’s diagnosis and I very rarely look forward to anything exciting happening, but this all changed when Make-A-Wish supported Sophia and my family by granting her wish to have lots and lots of chocolate!
I am so grateful to Make-A-Wish for such a magical day. Being part of Sophia’s wish, spending a fabulous morning at Hotel Chocolat, learning about, making and tasting chocolate was fabulous!
My sister’s dream came true, and I have never seen her so happy. She was delighted to have a day full of chocolate!
She will treasure the memories for life and this amazing day felt like me, Sophia and my sister Aisha were children again having fun and just having a fabulous mouth-watering chocolate adventure day!
It was amazing to see that twinkle in Sophia's eyes because I often see her very distressed and upset when she has to go to appointments and treatment in hospital.
Thank you to Jo, Kerry and the whole of the fantastic team at Make-A-Wish for lighting up Sophia's childhood with such a spectacular memory.
I hope many, many people can support the charity to help them make it possible to grant wishes for all children because, just like Sophia, every child deserves their wish to come true.
Her sibling, Zahra Rubani, age 11