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“I wish to go to Lapland”
5 years old, Redditch
For five-year-old James from Redditch, his wish to go to Lapland, where he was surrounded by other kids with critical illnesses, allowed him to feel, in his words, “normal.”
Following a diagnosis of a rare blood disorder, James’ life has been far from normal, with his condition impacting the way he’s experienced Christmas. “We’ll plan to take him to Winter Wonderland or to see Father Christmas but he’ll be too poorly,” explained mum Lizzie. After missing out on the magic of Christmas, his wish to go to Lapland Finland allowed him to, “live a normal life for those three days.”
“It was devastating,” said Mum as she recounts what it was like being told that her six-month-old son had diamond blackfan anaemia: an extremely rare blood disorder that affects the body's bone marrow and disrupts red blood cell production. “We were told that his life expectancy wasn’t very long - his life flashed before us in an instant.”
James’ life quickly changed, as it became shaped by his condition: “He can't live a normal life, he can’t do normal things. He can’t stay round other people’s houses as they can’t give him his medication.” Unlike other children, the common cold often leads to a hospital stay for James.
Now at an age where he can understand that he’s different from his peers, James is aware of the consequences of his condition: “When he gets a runny nose, he tells me and his dad that he has to go to hospital.”
A life-limiting condition has a monumental impact on not just James but his siblings: “He has a 14-year-old brother, Josh. It affects him mentally because he wonders how long James has left. We don’t know how long he has left, so it has an impact on all of us.”
Despite it all, James is, as Mum told us, “Crazy and full of life!” A studious pupil, James loves school, reading, learning and writing. But most of all, James loves writing to Santa! “I’ve been to the post box four times in the last week,” said Mum.
Not only would James’ wish allow him to meet the big red man himself, but it would serve as a time for the whole family to spend together away from his condition: “It’s a break from his condition which is tiring for him.”
In the build-up to his wish, James’ household was beaming with anticipation. “We were anxious - if James gets poorly we’d have to put his health first. But we told him just before the wish. He was excited but he didn’t understand the true extent of it!”
The trip marks the first time that the family would be able to go on holiday abroad, making it even more special as he dives into a snowy landscape for the first time.
Fittingly, snow was one of the many parts that James loved about Lapland. “He said that his favourite part was the snow, Santa & his elves, the snow dogs, and playing with his new friends he made,” explained Mum.
How James' wish helped
Lapland restored what James’ rare blood condition had taken away from him: a sense of normality and festive childhood memories. “For those three days, he could just live a normal life. He could have snowball fights with his brother and just do what other kids do. James loved the fact that he was on holiday with children like him, who also had critical illnesses and disabilities. He said he felt ‘normal’.”
As mum told us, wishes are fundamental to the well-being of children like James:
"They might never get an opportunity to do something like this again. Some families can’t financially do it as it's not feasible. They have to give up work because of their children’s illnesses. A wish gives back to these families, to families like ours. We would never have the opportunity to do something like this normally. Thank you so much!"
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