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“I wish to have a jungle themed bedroom”
9 years old, Canvey Island
Nine-year-old Joshua’s wish to have a jungle themed bedroom, surrounded by his favourite stuffed animals, will help his family ‘to get back to normal’ after a 'devastating’ leukaemia diagnosis. ‘When I heard the word ‘leukaemia’, I felt like my world had fallen apart’ explained mum, Sam. But the thought of buying a zoo-themed stuffed animal gave Joshua something to look forward to amidst intense chemotherapy.
After losing her mum to leukaemia, hearing her son receive the very same diagnosis sent Sam into a world of panic. ‘All I could think about was Joshua’s grandma’ said Mum. For his 22-year-old brother, learning of Joshua’s illness brought back unhappy memories. ‘Losing his nan to leukaemia hit him massively’ Mum told us, ‘so he really struggled to get his head around Joshua’s diagnosis’.
Understanding Joshua’s diagnosis was difficult for Joshua’s younger sister Evie who has severe learning difficulties. ‘She doesn’t understand what's gone on’ said Mum. Frequent hospital trips meant that mum was unable to spend time with Evie. As Mum said, ‘she was constantly asking for me and we couldn’t explain to her why mummy wasn’t there.’.
The ‘devastating’ news hit Sam just as hard. ‘They took me in a room to tell me about his diagnosis. When they told me I had a moment of sheer devastation.’ But Mum felt like she ‘had to be strong’ for Joshua. After receiving the news of his diagnosis, Mum explained how all she could hear was Joshua’s cries from outside the room: ‘I had to collect myself - I dried my tears and gave him a hug.’
After countless rounds of chemotherapy, lengthy hospital stays and having to endure nasty medicines, Joshua’s resilience has prevailed. ‘He’s amazed me with how he’s just gotten on with it. If you don’t know him, you wouldn’t know that there was anything wrong with him’ said Sam. Joshua is now back in school, though still goes to hospital for treatment. In a testament to his strength, Mum told us how ‘after he’s had chemo, he’ll be sick, get it out of the way, and he’s back to being Josh.’
Throughout his experience with leukaemia, zoo-themed stuffed animals offered Joshua a distraction during intolerable times. ‘He loves teddies- he's always been a massive teddy fan’ said Mum. After enduring harsh chemotherapy and various tests, Mum explained how she would ‘take him down to the shop at great Ormond Street and buy him a teddy’, giving Joshua something to look forwards to. Initially sticking to cats and dogs, Joshua eventually found himself collecting stuffed zoo animals. As Sam told us, ‘He got an elephant, and then a monkey. That’s when he said he was going to start collecting zoo animals! It became his thing.’
After going in for treatment, Joshua would search the toy store for the largest teddy. ‘One day he found a giant elephant- it was bigger than him!’ said Mum. Soon, Joshua had families of stuffed elephants and giraffes- his room slowly turning into a jungle. ‘that’s why we suggested he turn his room into a jungle for his wish,’ said Mum.
From the moment the construction started Joshua was ecstatic. Eager to see his new room, Joshua would frequently ask his mum ‘when it would be done’. When the final product was revealed to him, Joshua was overwhelmed with joy. As Mum told us ‘after he was shown his room, I saw him sat on his bed. He was crying and getting choked up. He said, ‘I think it’s so amazing, it’s all so lovely.’ He was crying out of happiness.'
The impact of Joshua's wish
Just like how his teddies gave him a distraction amid his time in hospital, his jungle themed room provides an oasis of respite for Joshua. For a long time, the family’s lives were shape by serval blows of bad news. But as Sam told us, 'his bedroom will allow us to get back to normality'. Joshua’s illness meant that he regularly had to sleep in his mum’s room, but his room ‘gives him his independence back’. Finally, Joshua will have his own happy place to retreat to - ‘his own space to relax, play and have his own time away from his sister and me’.
Not only did his wish give a sense of normality back to Joshua and his family, but it also gave him his childhood back - ‘With everything that he’s gone through in the past year, his childhood has been taking away. That’s why we’re so blown away with everything that Make-A-Wish has done. His wish has been a massive help in giving his childhood back to him, thank you.’
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