Wish stories

Izzy's wish...

“I wish to spend the day with a ballet company”

18 years old, Doncaster

B cell lymphoma

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18-year-old Izzy’s life has mostly been centred around her greatest passion: dancing. But when the bubbly teen from Doncaster was diagnosed with B cell lymphoma, dance studios and ballet shoes were swapped for hospital appointments and gruelling treatment.

“Treatment put a pause on that part of her life,” said mum Karen as she spoke about the impact chemotherapy had on Izzy’s lifelong dream of being a dancer. But after having her wish to see the dancers of The Royal Ballet rehearse at the at the Royal Opera House, Izzy was able to gain insight into the many career opportunities that the world of dance offers, something she missed out on whilst undergoing treatment.

Izzy's story

November 2022

“We were in shock,” explained Karen as she recalled what it was like hearing that Izzy had B cell lymphoma - a fast-progressing cancer that causes the lymphocytes (cells responsible for fighting infection) to no longer fight infection, instead growing out of control.

A loss of control was also mirrored in Izzy’s life: “She didn’t have a chance to make a friendship group in Sixth form. She couldn’t do normal things,” said Mum. Following her diagnosis, Karen went into full survival mode, staying by Izzy's side: “Our lives moved round her diagnosis. The full extent of what was happening didn’t hit us until it was all over.”

One year after her initial diagnosis, in March of 2023, Izzy entered remission. Still committed to her craft, tenacious and dedicated Izzy had to put in a lot of hard work to rebuild the stamina that she had lost. Having completed her A-levels, Izzy is now applying to dance schools, and can’t wait to start her dance career.

This is why Izzy chose to see the dancers of The Royal Ballet rehearse at the Royal Opera House: it would offer her insight into her future career, after being unable to do so during her treatment.

“Dance is her thing, she’s been doing it since she was five. It’s what she wants to do with her life,” explained Mum.

For Izzy dance offered her a sense of normality. Whilst mostly confined to hospital walls, Izzy was fortunately able to go out once a week to dance, which still contrasted the three to four hours of dance she previously did daily.

"Dance for me is freedom. Through treatment, it helped me keep a sense of normality. It gave me somewhere to go that was normal."

Izzy, speaking about how dance helped her cope with her treatment

Izzy's wish

December 2023


The family and dancer, Edward Watson, watch on as Joseph Sissens rehearses

On the day of her wish, Izzy and her family were welcomed in through the stage door of the Royal Opera House and into the ballet rehearsal rooms to see a unique behind-the-scenes view of the show they’d see that night – The Nutcracker. The family sat and watched as Royal Ballet dancers Daichi Ikarashi and Viola Pantuso rehearsed for their parts as Clara and Nephew, followed by Joseph Sissens and Mariko Sasaki rehearsing the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince.

Izzy and her family watching Royal Ballet dancers Joseph Sissens and Mariko Sasaki rehearsing.

Izzy and her family watching dancers Mariko Sasaki and Joseph Sissens rehearsing

After rehearsals, the family took an extensive trip around the wardrobe department to see the intricate hand-made costumes from the show, from the hundreds of tutus to the Mouse King! The tour ended with a special meet and greet with Principal dancers Sarah Lamb and Ryoichi Hirano, who would be playing the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince in the show that Izzy would later be seeing. Izzy was then gifted a goody bag that included a signed programme from the evening’s show and a pair of signed pointe shoes from Principal dancer Sarah Lamb.

For mum Karen, her favourite part of the wish was simply looking at Izzy’s beaming smile as she watched the dancers rehearse: “I could've cried at that point. It was such a special moment.”

Izzy watching the rehearsal with her mum and dad.

Izzy smiling as she watches the rehearsal with her mum, dad and brother

How Izzy's wish helped

February 2024

Izzy now has a wealth of knowledge to dip into when thinking about her future dance career: “It gave me a chance to know that there are other jobs involved in dance. There are other ways for me to be in that area even if I'm not the person on stage.” After being unable to do so whilst receiving treatment, gaining insight into the world of dance was much needed for the future dance professional.

"Sometimes it feels like you’ve missed out on a lot, a wish can give you something that you’ve really wanted to do that you wouldn’t have been able to do whilst undergoing treatment."

Izzy, speaking about her wish

For the whole family, including Izzy’s brother Samuel, age 16, and dad Daniel, the wish allowed them to make long-lasting memories after being unable to do so whilst Izzy was undergoing treatment. As Mum said “We were able to all take part in Izzy's world as a family. It brought us all together for a lovely magical day.”

“I’m so thankful that people have donated to make wishes like mine possible,” said Izzy. “Being in the seats we were in watching them rehearse is something we wouldn't be able to do if people hadn't donated- Thank you so much!”

L-R: Edward Watson, Mariko Sasaki, Izzy's brother, Izzy, Mum, Joseph Sissens and Dad.

L-R: Edward Watson, Mariko Sasaki, Izzy's brother, Izzy, Mum, Joseph Sissens and Dad

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