Cooking up a delicious wish

Little chef Poppy's wish to make sausage rolls with TV star Justine Schofield has been put on the backburner due to COVID-19, but thanks to the generosity of donors like you, she's been kept busy by some fun anticipation activities organised by the Make-A-Wish #WishForce

Background

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 7 year old’s time in the kitchen was paused just over a couple of 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.”

Treatment

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.”

Anticipation

Justine keeps Poppy smiling

This September is one Poppy will never forget.

The food-loving Poppy’s wish is to meet chef and TV star Justine Schofield and to make sausage rolls with her.

Because of COVID-19, Poppy’s wish has been put on the backburner. However, she recently got to hang out with Justine on a one-hour Zoom call and make cookies with her.

The fun continues on September 24 when Poppy has her birthday. Four days later, on September 28, Poppy will have her last chemotherapy treatment.

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.

“I messaged Monique the volunteer one day to check if anything was happening and that very day she organised a little kids’ apron and cookies and some edible paint. Just something to keep her enthusiasm going.”

Poppy also received a video message from Justine around the time her wish was going to happen last March.

“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.

Wish is waiting

'It means a lot to us'

Courtney said Poppy’s medical journey had been “heartbreaking”, but the timing of her postponed wish would actually work out well.

“It will be kind of symbolic of her recovery. Because if we had of met Justine back in March we still would have had a little way to go, but now that her chemo will be finished it’s a nice kind of closure,” she said.

“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.

“I’m emotional right now talking about it. And I think it’s great Make-A-Wish involves the whole family because we have all been through it, in a big sense.”

With her wish day at least a few months away, Courtney said Poppy would continue to practice making her much-loved 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, 7, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Make wishes come true

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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.