Make a Wish This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Everyone seems to think that getting to make a wish through Make a Wish Foundation is the coolest thing in the world. Take it from someone who has been there and done that: It sucks. While it’s a remarkable experience that changes your life forever, it comes at a high price. Getting to make a wish also means that you have a life-threatening disease. Mine is cystic fibrosis.

CF is an inherited, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 people in the United States (and 70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein cause the body to produce unusually thick mucus, which clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. The mucus obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. CF makes every day of my life a living hell.

Having CF also means that you spend your entire life on medication. It means that every time you cough, people look at you because it sounds so unpleasant. It means that the average life expectancy is thirty. Having CF means that when you forget to take your pills, you get stomachaches that feel like someone is driving a pitchfork through you, and for some, it means frequent visits to the hospital.

When I made my “wish,” I spent hours deciding what I wanted. It was a much harder decision than I thought it would be, simply because the one thing I wanted was the one thing that no one could give me – to be able to breathe perfectly 100 percent of the time. I wanted to be able to eat anything and not have to worry about taking stupid pills. I wanted to gain weight like a normal person and not have to deal with a nutritionist.

“Now, Sarah, what [pause] did you have [pause] for breakfast this morning?” she asked choppily, her eyes on her clipboard. I didn’t need to look at her, I knew exactly what her facial expression was. My nutritionist’s eyes, unblinking, were bulging out of her head like a frog.

Suppressing a laugh, I replied moodily, “Cheerios … with milk!” I added quickly, foreseeing her next question.

“What percent [pause] milk did you use?”

“One!” I snapped. She must have asked me that question a million times. The answer was not going to change. Without fail, a worried expression flashed across her face.

I never paid attention to what she said. She wasn’t going to stop me from craving salt and she wasn’t going to get the doctors to stop drawing blood every other visit. She was a useless waste of space. I know that it wasn’t entirely rational, but I wanted to blame somebody for the way I felt every day – and she was the easiest target.

What I want the most was to be able to call myself normal. I want to be like every other kid whose biggest problems are what they’re wearing to school the next day and figuring out whether the kid sitting two seats away likes them back. I didn’t want to get offended when cystic fibrosis came up in ninth-grade biology and the teacher told the whole class that people with CF were referred to as mutants. I didn’t want people to treat me differently because I was sick. I didn’t want to make a wish because I didn’t want to have a reason to.

My “wish” came up in conversation while I was hanging out with friends. One of my best friends ranted and raved about how incredible it would be to make a wish. “I want to make one!” she said wistfully.

“No, you don’t. Making a wish comes at a high price, darling,” I responded, astounded that she had really just said that.

“I mean it! I would gladly have a life-threatening disease if it meant getting to wish for anything under the sun!”

“No, no. Having CF is one of the worst things ever. It’s never-ending torture. I promise you, the one thing you’d wanna wish for is the one thing you couldn’t have.”

Many people, like my friend, think that making a wish is a fairy-tale situation. They think it would be like wishing they could fly or turn into a fairy princess out of a storybook. The people like me, however, understand that it’s the complete opposite. Our lives are the furthest thing from a fairy tale, but that’s why we get to make wishes.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

isimplywish said...
Nov. 1, 2012 at 12:33 am
beautifully written piece! i can't even think of anything to say that doesn't sound ridiculous or meaningless after reading that. You're a brilliant writer though, that's for sure. Just curious, what did you wish for?
 
boarder32 said...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm
Wow that is completely life changing on the subject. Its amazing you feel that way....i love it.
 
wordnerd54 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 16, 2010 at 7:48 pm
I loved that! I'm a diabetic and I also have graves' disease, even though neither are life-threatening like CF, I know how you feel with the whole friends thing.  Not long after I was diagnosed with graves', my friends had a 'talk' with me about how I wasn't talking a lot and was generally... touchy.  People don't get it.  It really amazes me. Thanks for writing that, it made me feel like someone gets it.
 
LYN said...
Apr. 11, 2009 at 6:17 am
I 100% love this. IT's really deep and it makes me realize that I have ignore what I have now. I have wanted so many things. :) Love your life.:)
 
winged_girl_Ala said...
Mar. 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm
Hi, I'm Ala. Such an inspiring article . . . I've never had cancer, but trust me, I have had MORE than my fair share of struggles than I could ever tell you . . . than I could tell anyone . . . anyways, the best of luck. I sincerely hope that you get better. Keep up that strong attitude, girl! You can get through anything.
 
Theresa K. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 16, 2009 at 6:54 pm
That was a horrible thing for your friend to say. Very shallow. I'm sure he/she regrets it. This was a beautifully written piece, and I hope you're doing well.
 
gbaby92 said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 4:33 am
i also have cf. i completely get everything you said it is horrible and i would trade any wish in the whole world just to be normal like everyone else. i havent made a wish yet but i think im gunna do it soon i just cant decided what i want it to be.
 
GirlTerryFox52 said...
Jan. 2, 2009 at 1:43 am
When I was 14, I was diagnosed with bone cancer in both of my legs and I had to get both legs amputated and get prosthetics. My doctor said that I would never be able to run again (running is my passion), but I refused to take no for an answer, and I won the Marathon for Cancer in my district! Unfortunately, I didn't get to make a wish, cause apparently my cancer isn't life-threatening, and I don't think it's even in my body anymore. But I admire you so much! You're so strong! Keep fighting that... (more »)
 
65roses said...
Nov. 14, 2008 at 9:19 pm
omg great job! you summed up everything i feel...I have CF too and I just made my wish! it took me forever to come up with it, I had no idea what to put. The only thing that came into my mind was "cure, cure, cure" but i knew it wouldnt happen...the whole process just kept me wondering, if make a wish really could grant me anything i wanted, and i got a cure, what it would be like to be able to laugh without having a coughing fit, or make it through a whole year without being in the ho... (more »)
 
swim37 said...
Oct. 16, 2008 at 11:09 pm
this is really good! i have had cancer since 7th grade so i know what it is like to have a terrible illness. I was just wondering what your wish ended up being. That is so cool that you got that oppurtunity. But i know what you mean about rather being healthy cause i couldn't agree more. I also can't believe that your friend actually said that to you, how can you even consider her a friend? Well anyway I'm really sorry about your condition and i hope everything starts getting easier for you! goo... (more »)
 
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