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“I wish to to go Lapland UK”
6 years old, South Ockendon
For six-year-old Julia and her family, remaining positive is what matters the most to them following a leukaemia diagnosis. “We had no choice - we had to be positive to continue,” said mum Gina. That’s why going to Lapland UK was so special to the family: “Going to Lapland brought us so much positivity when we really needed it.”
“I couldn’t accept it,” said Mum as she described what it was like hearing that her daughter had leukaemia. Shoved into an unknown world of intensive chemotherapy and long hospital stays, Mum was in shock: “I couldn’t believe that it was happening to us.”
Quickly, the family's lives changed. “We had to find our new 'normal’ because our old ‘normal’ changed,” explained Mum. Away from her family who lives in Romania, Gina had to rely on the support of those nearest to her whilst Julia underwent chemotherapy. Spending weeks in hospital quickly became Julia's “new normal.”
“It’s stopped her from doing things that other kids do,” said Mum as she described the “rough” impact that Julia’s diagnosis has had on her childhood. Julia’s diagnosis and treatment had a heavy toll on her stress levels. At only six years old, Julia’s experience with leukaemia has caused her to endure high amounts of stress: “She stops speaking when she's stressed and she bites her nails,” explained Mum.
Now, Julia has started maintenance chemotherapy, which is predicted to last a year and a half. As Mum told us, “with her starting maintenance we thought it would be easier than what it was like when she was on intensive chemotherapy, but it's still hard. It's not over yet, but we’re getting through it, and we're grateful that she's getting better.”
But with all that the family has been through, Mum told us that “the thing that counts is being positive.” And Julia’s wish gave the family a wealth of positivity.
The wish came at the perfect time for Julia, who was starting to question the magic of Christmas: “Julia keeps asking if magic exists and if Santa is real - she's really questioning Christmas.” So, when the family had the option of Lapland as a wish, they knew they had to choose it.
After keeping the wish a secret, Julia was ecstatic when she found out. “She asked me after I showed videos of Lapland UK why the elves at Lapland aren't like elves from the Elf on the Shelf,” said Mum.
For the whole family Christmas marks a time of togetherness, “it's the most important holiday of the year for us,” said Mum. Not only would the wish reinstall the magic of Christmas for Julia, but it would also give the family quality time spent in a wintery oasis.
“Her wish has made her feel so special,” said Mum. The wish allowed Julia to experience the true magic of Christmas, as she made and ate gingerbread and ice-skated with her family - two things that Mum said she loved.
But for the whole family, meeting and taking a picture with the big man in red, Father Christmas, was an emotional time: “We are all happy in that picture with Father Christmas. Having that family photo together with Father Christmas is wonderful.”
The impact of Julia's wish
Now, the magic of Christmas has been restored for Julia, “by granting Julia’s wish, she was able to see magic and now believes in it. By making beautiful memories whilst on her wish, we now have a story to teach our children about the magic that is in us.”
Amid treatment, Julia’s wish also gave the family a time where they could enjoy being together, without the worry of chemotherapy. Now the family has a plethora of positive long-lasting memories to look back on whilst the six-year-old enters her year and a half of maintenance treatment: “It gave us time as a family to make memories that we will always talk about.”
When we asked Mum what she would say to people who have helped Julia’s wish become a reality she said, “You don’t know how important what you’re doing is. Thank you for making my daughters come to life. It's so important for a family to families like ours to have something so special.”
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