Twins come out the other side

Jacob got a tumour on his kidney. A year later his twin brother Marcus had the same thing happen to him. The boys are in remission and their family are now looking forward to their wishes happening.

Shock diagnosis

Fresh tumour discovery rocks family

For Wish mum Joanne it was the worst possible Groundhog Day imaginable.

Her little boy Jacob was just getting back to everyday life after a cancerous tumour was removed from his kidney.

But then Jacob's identical twin, Marcus, complained of stomach pains. It was just after Halloween, and, like most kids, he had eaten more than his share of lollies. So maybe it was that? Or perhaps, as the GP had suggested, it was gout?

Joanne had a feeling something more sinister was at play.

She took Marcus for an ultrasound, and the worst-case scenario unfolded before her eyes.

"As soon as they started to scan his kidney I could see it," Joanne said.

"I knew what I was looking for because I'd seen it before with Jacob, and I started crying.

"The sonographer said 'I'm sorry, there's a tumour growing on his kidney'. It was 10.5cm, and we went straight to the emergency ward."

Familiar journey

Lightning strikes twice

Joanne and husband Savva were struggling to wrap their heads around how both their sons could have cancerous tumours – known as Wilms' tumours - attached to their kidneys.

"I felt like we were extremely unlucky," Joanne said.

"I asked the oncologist 'how does this happen?', and he said 'I don't even know'.

"When Jacob was diagnosed, it was okay, we could get through it. But when Marcus was diagnosed, it all just fell apart. It felt like Doomsday, like Groundhog Day.

"Every day, I was just waking up to get through the day, and the next day was going to be the same."

Joanne said she was worried about the toll on her older kids, who had needed support to get through Jacob's treatment.

And then there was Marcus, who knew exactly what was to come because he had seen his twin brother go through it.

"He didn't want to go into surgery," Joanne said.

Marcus's tumour was 10.5cm, while Jacob's was 7.5cm. Jacob was 3 when he was diagnosed, Marcus was 4. Both boys had their left kidney and tumour removed and underwent close to 30 weeks of chemotherapy.

While Jacob didn't lose all his hair during chemo, his brother did, so Jacob shaved his hair during Marcus's treatment to make his brother feel better.


Twins plan their wishes

Jacob and Marcus, now aged 6 and both in remission, have different personalities. Marcus is the more mischievous of the two, while Jacob is quieter and reserved.

The two also have different wishes.

Jacob loves lollies and, similar to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, wishes to visit a 'CandyLand' where he can eat everything in sight!

Marcus loves seals and dolphins, so he has wished to be around – and possibly swim with – them.

The twins' wishes are two of over 800 wishes in waiting due to COVID-19. With restrictions now easing, the Wish Force is working hard to grant as many wishes as possible to kids who have been counting the days since COVID struck.


Boys kickin' it with the Bulldogs

As Jacob and Marcus have been waiting for their wishes, Make-A-Wish has organised anticipation activities for the boys to keep the excitement going.

Recently the pair got to meet their favourite Western Bulldogs players at Whitten Oval.

Jacob and Marcus were given Bulldogs caps which were signed by all the players.

"The captain, Marcus Bontempelli, picked up my Marcus," mum Joanne said.

"And then the guys in the team were having some fun saying 'I'm sure your Marcus is the better Marcus'. The Bulldogs made the boys feel part of the team. The players have no idea how much joy that day brought to my boys."

Joanne said Make-A-Wish was about giving hope to kids that need it.

"You help them get past that grey time in their life and focus on the joy and happiness in their future," Joanne said.

"It's creating memories that nothing will ever top."

You help them get past that grey time in their life and focus on the joy and happiness in their future

Joanne, mother of Marcus and Jacob kidney tumours

The Wish Journey

How a wish comes to life

Make-A-Wish volunteers visit each child to capture their greatest wish, getting to the heart of what kids truly want and why. This profound insight is part of what makes Make-A-Wish unique, giving children full creative control and helping to shape their entire Wish Journey.

Back at Make-A-Wish HQ, we partner with families, volunteers and medical teams to design the ultimate wish experience - and start rallying our partners and supporters to help make it happen.

In the lead up to the wish, we take each child on a journey designed to build excitement and provide a welcome distraction from medical treatment. Anticipation can be incredibly powerful, helping to calm, distract and inspire sick kids at a time they need it most.

When the moment finally arrives, children get to experience their greatest wish come true - it's everything they've imagined and more. Pinch yourself, and don't forget to take a breath and enjoy every precious moment!

Wish impact studies show that a child's wish lives on, long after the moment. A wish gives more than just hope – with an incredible and lasting effect on the lives of sick kids, their families and wider communities.