Sanae’s wish was granted in1993 as the third wish child for Make-A-Wish Japan. She learned the power of dreaming. Following is an extract from her message at the 20th anniversary event.
Soon after I started Junior High, I felt very sick and was diagnosed with a severe case of aplastic anemia. I was in the ninth grade and was hospitalized in Okinawa when my wish was granted and my life changed. I was the third Wish Child for Make-A-Wish of Japan.
Back then, the only cure for my disease was by bone-marrow transplant but I could not find a donor. I needed daily blood transfusions and received investigative therapy but nothing seemed to work. In spite of various trials of treatment, things were getting worse and I had been hospitalized for more than two years, surviving by blood transfusions. But eventually, blood transfusions were not helping. My blood platelets were very low, and my ritual was to rinse my bloody mouth in the morning.
I had suffered with congenital heart disease and my parents had cared for me for so many years. Fearing that I would not survive until the following morning, I cried every day and felt sorry for my parents.
Susan Albright, the founder of Make-A-Wish Japan, came to visit me unexpectedly. She came to my bedside and said, “We are here to make your wish come true. What is your wish?” Having no positive thoughts, wishes or dreams, I tried hard to think of something. Throughout the years I had been in the hospital, I saw so many people pass away although they had hopes, wishes and aspirations. I thought I did not deserve it and told her to please grant the wishes of other people.
But Susan didn’t give up. With determination in her eyes she said, “Don’t worry, we will grant the wishes of other kids later, but let us grant your wish first. What is your wish?” I was moved by her positive and caring attitude. I started to think about my wish. I had been listening to a CD by a duo every day, and they were the source of my energy to live one day at a time. I told her that I wanted to go to their concert. She smiled and said she will get back to me.
Although I shared my wish, I knew it was not possible because my resistance was so low I could not leave my hospital room, and there was no way I could go to a concert. But a few days later, she visited me and told me that I was going to the concert in Hokkaido (farthest from Okinawa). The next time she visited me, she said, “I got your ticket.”
I didn’t believe I would get to go to that concert and it was only my “dream” but each time she came to give me updates, my dream changed to hope and then to reality. I remember clearly how my world had changed. I was surrounded by dark, thick, gray clouds, but saw the light come in to my world.
I started to imagine that my bone marrow was functioning and creating new marrow, because there was no treatment available for me. I kept dreaming of the day of the concert every single day.
I can’t explain what happened to my bone marrow, but I needed blood transfusions less frequently. I had needed them every day, but by concert time, I could survive without blood transfusions for two weeks. Blood tests showed good results, and my doctor didn’t have to come with me all the way to Hokkaido.
Later I learned that the plan was to take me to Hokkaido because my life expectancy was thought to be one month or less.
The three days in Hokkaido were almost like living a dream. Mr. Yagi, Director of Make-A-Wish Japan, staff members and volunteers welcomed me warmly. The concert was really a wish-come-true, and I had the opportunity to meet my favorite duo in person. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Upon returning from Hokkaido, I was feeling more positive, and then a miracle happened. My doctor told me “your marrow liquid is improving” and I was able to go home.
I was very close to death, but having a wish changed my attitude, and my life changed completely. I was so thankful. I needed to have a new dream to share with others. My new goal was to be a teacher in a school for disabled children.
That wish also came true, and I am now working as a teacher in a Special Assistance School in Chiba. I also found a partner to walk my life with, and the greatest miracle, I was able to give birth to a healthy child.
As you can see, my life has changed because of Make-A-Wish. MAW not only granted my wish, but helped me realize the importance of positive thinking, the power of believing in yourself and to never forget to dream big dreams.
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