My Child’s Healing Make-A-Wish Trip to Hilton Waikoloa Village
There are vacation spots that are so memorable that they become rooted in a family’s DNA. For my family, that place is Hilton Waikoloa Village.
We have so many memories that are connected to this particular resort. My son took his very first boat ride in one of the mahogany vessels that cruise the resort’s canals. My daughter first tried at fishing here as a Keiki Club camper. One New Year’s Eve we gathered with other guests at Buddah Point to watch fireworks shot from other parts of the island. We’ve ridden water bikes across the hotel lagoon and snapped endless silly photos with the amazing art collection positioned all of over the grounds. We also enjoyed our first “dive in” movie night at the resort’s Kona Pool. My husband even holds a bittersweet memory of trekking down to the ballroom to retrieve his little girl from her first big New Year’s Eve party without her parents.
So it was really no surprise that while in the midst of a cancer fight, that same girl decided that this Hawaii resort would be the scene for her Make-A-Wish celebration once she finished treatment. Thank Heavens for organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
WISHES ARE POWERFUL
It made sense that my daughter wanted to put hospital rooms, medications, side effects, and an endless parade of medical professionals behind her by checking into Hilton Waikoloa Village. After all, this place feeds the adventurous spirit that lives within her and nourishes a love of nature that has stuck with her.
Granting that wish propelled her through treatment. Knowing she was Big Island bound once she was well enough to participate in all of the activities she loves lifted her spirits and empowered her to kick butt. Her chemo treatments, a time mostly spent sitting around passing the time, were suddenly filled with thoughts of water slides, palm trees, trade winds, turtles, and that guy who blows the conch shell before running around the resort lighting the tiki torches. This is the sort of power and positive energy that a child’s wish emits.
A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE
When a child has cancer, it’s a crisis for the whole family. Life is turned upside-down. Just imagine that one week you’re driving a kid to soccer practice then the next week you’re driving them to radiation appointments. That’s how fast life can turn. My daughter had a brain tumor called Medullablastoma. Her heart-wrenching diagnosis sent us on an 18-month long transforming journey that involved brain surgery, 31 radiation treatments, and nine rounds of chemotherapy. Our path was rife with highs and lows, fears and stresses, and in the end, triumph. It is so true, that once you go through such an experience, you are forever changed.
This vacation also allowed my family to close a dark chapter and forge a bright new one. We’ve always made it a point to be about making family memories rather than accumulating junk. This decision was never more poignant than the moment I watched my little girl row a kayak across Hilton Waikoloa’s lagoon without getting winded.
MAKE MEMORIES NOW
Nearly seven months post treatment, my daughter is starting to get back to her life and all that is classically teenage about it. I like to say that she is two years older than she was at diagnosis and five years wiser due to the experience. She will be scanned quarterly for the next year to stay on top of the threat of relapse. Should her scans stay clear, she will then be scanned twice a year for two years. At the five-year mark from diagnosis, she will be scanned annually for the rest of her life. Like many other cancers, if brain cancer returns, it comes back more aggressive and difficult to treat.
We don’t focus on that though, we are out in the world building on this beautiful wish we were granted by taking on more adventures and experiencing them as a family. Travel’s healing power did that for us. I urge all of you not to wait for such a situation to do the same with your loved ones, get out there and make memories with your family now!
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- Read about all of our family vacations to the Big Island of Hawaii
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Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…