Cooking up a delicious wish
Little chef Poppy's wish to make sausage rolls with TV star Justine Schofield was put on the backburner due to COVID-19, but thanks to the generosity of donors like you, Poppy's wish has come true
Concerns lead to diagnosis
Budding chef Poppy has grown up with the smell of homemade food in her nostrils. A love of cooking has been instilled in her by her mother's mum and her father's Turkish mother.
But the 8 year old's time in the kitchen was paused three years ago when mum Courtney noticed a lump in Poppy's neck and a change in how her chest looked.
Courtney, who was 32 weeks pregnant with her third child, took Poppy to Melbourne's Northern Hospital and then to The Royal Children's Hospital.
"The one side of her chest that was elevated concerned them," Courtney said. "They took blood, and they knew straight away by her blood count that she had leukaemia.
"I was devastated and emotional already with all the added hormones (from being pregnant), and I just wasn't expecting it.
"No one ever expects their child to get a life-threatening illness. In the beginning, not having known a lot about it, I thought, 'oh my God, she's going to die'. I was just utterly devastated.
"I didn't know enough about it. As time goes by, you realise it's not a death sentence, and it's very curable."
Baby's arrival brings joy during hard time
Diagnosed just before she turned 5, Poppy doesn't remember her treatment as clearly as her mum does.
Courtney remembers the effect chemotherapy had on her bubbly little girl, including the times her hair would fall out.
"I have very vivid memories of bathing her and caring for her like she's an elderly parent," Courtney said.
"I have memories of her falling in the shower; that's how frail she was.
"Her hair, her eyelashes, her eyebrows – she lost everything."
Two months after Poppy's diagnosis, Courtney gave birth to Poppy's new brother.
"It was the worst time, but it was also a blessing in disguise because I had paid maternity leave, and that allowed me to be with Poppy 100 per cent of the time," Courtney said.
"The baby was a little bit of joy in such a terrible time."
Justine keeps Poppy smiling
The food-loving Poppy's wish was to meet chef and TV star Justine Schofield and to make sausage rolls with her.
COVID-19 put Poppy's wish on the backburner. But during 2020, Make-A-Wish organised for Poppy to hang out with Justine on a one-hour Zoom call and make cookies with her.
Courtney said Make-A-Wish had kept in regular contact with her, building Poppy's anticipation for her rescheduled wish in 2021.
"Someone came to our house to deliver her Wish coin, and the #WishForce has given her little things along the way," Courtney said.
Poppy also received a video message from Justine around the time her wish was going to happen early in 2020.
"I am so excited to be cooking sausage rolls with you because they are my favourite too, so hopefully, it will happen soon," Justine told Poppy before blowing her kisses.
Lights, cameras, action!
A limousine pulling up outside her house at 6.30am marked the start of Poppy's wish day.
It would take Poppy, her sister Odessa and their mum and dad to the studio to meet Justine and film for Justine's Channel 10 show Everyday Gourmet.
Poppy and Justine made two lots of sausage rolls with cameras rolling. Justine made a batch with cheese, and Poppy produced some without cheese. After the cooking was complete, the pair sat down for a sausage roll lunch.
"We had the best day," Poppy's mum Courtney said. "Poppy took to it like a duck to water, she's very outgoing, and she didn't take long to warm up at all.
"Everyone was really nice, and the director got Odessa involved, and we went on a tour of the whole studio."
Justine farewelled Poppy by briefly jumping in the limousine that arrived to pick Poppy up. She then hugged Poppy and her family and said goodbye.
Clear skies for Poppy
Courtney said the delay to the wish was a blessing as it meant Poppy had fully recovered from her chemotherapy by the time her wish day arrived.
"I think it worked out for the best," Courtney said. "I think now she is a bit stronger mentally and physically, and all her check-ups for the last six months have been really positive.
"It was a really nice family day.
"Even though it was Poppy with cancer, we have all been through it with her, and it was kind of like a reward for all of us, and we were all included – especially Odessa. Make-A-Wish made Odessa feel special too, and we really appreciate it."
Courtney said she hoped there would be some way in the future Poppy could have another Zoom call with Justine. In the meantime, Poppy plans to continue making her yummy sausage rolls.
"She's always wanting to help me too, stirring the pasta or checking what's happening in the oven," Courtney said.
"She pretends she's on YouTube like Justine or any other TV presenter. She'll say 'now I am adding the eggs' and 'this is what we are going to do, we are going to pop it in the oven'.
"Poppy always says to me that when she's grown up 'you can come around, and I'll make you a roast dinner, mum'."
She has done all this hard work, and now she’s rewarded with something that means so much to her, and it means a lot to us because it means so much to Poppy.Courtney mum of Poppy, 8, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
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.