Five years ago, I met my wish grantor in a crowded Granville Island café over soup and smiles. Mayra was a true fairy godmother. In the time since she and Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon helped me start dreaming, my life has changed in so many ways. A little psychological magic can transform everything.
This past November, I ran a 182-kilometer ultra-marathon in four days across Botswana. I was a fully sponsored Youth Ambassador for the non-profit impossible2possible, which seeks to educate, inspire, and empower youth through adventure. During our expedition, we raised awareness about water issues and defying personal limits by communicating live to classrooms worldwide via video technology. This experience gave me new incite into myself, my medical history, and the human spirit.
Even more than a public journey about water shortages for the students following us online, it was a personal journey. As we crossed desert and saltpans, my feet became blistered and my muscles became sore. I think a pedicure would have been a lost cause on my toes. But I realized, as we finally reached the sandy finish line of our last day, that it didn’t matter what my body felt like; my mind defined the distance I could cross. More than ever, I now believe that success is not as much a function of one’s circumstances so much as one’s commitment to keep going.
At the time of my wish, I couldn’t have imagined myself running such a distance. I have Lupus (systemic): a chronic autoimmune disease that, in short, causes my body to attack itself. In 2007, I was having a flare that impacted my kidneys. I missed more than thirty days of grade seven for doctor’s appointments at Children’s Hospital, underwent a kidney biopsy, and had to take prednisone. All of this ultimately brought down my self-esteem to a point where I didn’t believe I’d ever move on.
Yet I’m now in remission and just managed to run an ultra-marathon – thanks to the support of my team and because of an inner strength I think that Make-A-Wish helped give me. Indeed, mental will is the biggest gift of any wish. In order to have perseverance, one needs to trust in the good ahead. I’ll never forget the magic of my wish to the Galapagos Islands or just how much it changed my emotional state and thus my physical recovery. During those four fantastical days with my family, we spotted sea lions, laughed at marine iguanas with salt-encrusted nostrils, and marveled at gliding albatrosses. This amazing week offered me part of the psychological force to push forward and win against Lupus.
Perhaps overcoming my Lupus flare was not so different from my ultra-marathon. Perhaps, in fact, my wish is also a portion of what gave me the courage to run that far: what made me believe in accomplishing the seemingly impossible. I was able to create my own incredible because of what Make-A-Wish gave me when I really needed it, during a period when I couldn’t do it for myself. Our minds are more powerful than any medicine or even our muscles. With enough mental will and enough luck as well, the impossible can sometimes become possible.
Thank you Make-A-Wish BC & YK for helping me reach where I am today. – Saskia -