The best way I can describe my wish is it was the finale to my illness. My trip served as a lens to look at all the hardships I had endured over nearly three years, and a means to celebrate how far I had come, how different a person I had become. My wish made me feel like a normal kid who was on vacation with his family, something we had not dreamed about for three or so years.
At the time leading up to my wish, I had simply been looking to get through high school as best as I could, all the while making monthly visits to hospitals and having any number of tests continually done. In the years following my wish, while I still have checkups, it feels as if that portion of my life is over.
My trip to Hawaii provides a bittersweet memory to my illness. While it was one of the most fun weeks of my life, it serves as a reminder of the toll a serious illness takes on oneself and family. I can never think about one without the other.
My wish remains a celebration of everything I overcame over a large swath of my high school years. But for others, their fight rages on. That inspires me going forward to be a wish ambassador and give back to Make-A-Wish®. I know these kids’ battle … and I know the lasting power of a wish.
Thomas Vielkind, 20, is a junior at Syracuse University. His wish was to attend the 2016 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. He and his family live in Guilderland, New York.
Photo: Thomas Vielkind, right, is pictured with fellow cancer survivor Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs at the 2016 Pro Bowl.