Topics:  cancer, disneyland, family, health, lifestyle, make-a-wish australia

James' story proves wishes can come true

James Norquay, 12, has been granted a wish by Make-A-Wish foundation and is heading to Disneyland. He is pictured with his mum, Melissa Norquay and little brother Maxwell Norquay, 2.
James Norquay, 12, has been granted a wish by Make-A-Wish foundation and is heading to Disneyland. He is pictured with his mum, Melissa Norquay and little brother Maxwell Norquay, 2. Cade Mooney

THROUGHOUT James Norquay's chemotherapy treatment, he had one thing on his mind.

It wasn't cancerous brain tumours, or the medical treatment that made him feel sick.

James had a big task - working out what his ultimate wish was.

James's mum, Melissa, said in March last year, just before his first round of chemo, a social worker told them about Make-A-Wish and urged them to apply.

"It gave him something to think about other than his treatment. It wasn't until the end of the radiation that he decided what he wanted and we put in his wish. It had more meaning," she said.

Within a month James's wish to go to Disneyland was granted and the Coolum family heads off next month.

"He decided it would be a fun and magical place where he can be the kid," Melissa said.

"Kids grow up so quickly in hospital and are faced with so much, most people in their 30s and 40s haven't been through as much as they have.

"He's so positive and looking forward to his wish."

While James is in remission, he still goes to hospital in Brisbane once a week to tend to complications brought on by his cancer.

"Because of the size of the tumours, he lost a lot of sight and uses a cane and he has other medical problems that he'll have forever," Melissa said.

In the meantime, he has the excitement of his wish to get him through.

"It gives them a distraction instead of thinking about what's next, which is all those children know, it becomes so normal," Melissa said.

"It gives them a chance to think about something else in the future. It just gives them something positive to look forward to."

Make-A-Wish Australia grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions and has been responsible for giving more than 7000 children hope in the midst of a harrowing experience.

Charisse Mitchell is another wish recipient.

The 19-year-old from Morayfield met Hugh Jackman in 2010 and went on to become the Make-A-Wish Young Ambassador.

Charisse was diagnosed with cancer when she was 16 and desperately wanted to meet the Aussie star.

"My main wish was to meet Hugh Jackman. He took me to the opening of the Addams Family on Broadway," she said.

"Mum got a random phone call asking if I would go on the red carpet and be his date.

"We had paparazzi everywhere and had a police escort. I couldn't believe I was being interviewed by paparazzi.

"They kept saying, 'Hey Hugh, who's your pretty little friend?'

"It was fantastic, I kept pinching myself."

Charisse said while the wish had changed her life, she was initially reluctant.

"For a while I was thinking about it, I heard of Make-A-Wish and I was going to go through with it until I saw an ad on TV how it makes sick kids feel better," she said.

"I didn't want to think of myself as a sick kid."

Two years later and Charisse is "feeling pretty good", preparing for further chemo in next week.

The doctors have booked her into two more cycles before a rescanning.

Looking on the bright side, Charisse said she was allowed to have Christmas off.

Charisse said when people ask her what it's like to have cancer, her response is always the same.

"Cancer is like having a bad dream, except you don't wake up from it," she said.

"I see my life, as a nightmare."

Now Charisse's wish is to make it to her 20th birthday in March next year, in honour of two of her best friends who died a couple of months shy of their 20th birthdays.

"I'm not just turning 20 for me, it's for my friends and any other child who didn't make it," she said.

 

Make-A-Wish

Make-A-Wish Australia has granted more than 7000 wishes to children in Australia with life-threatening medical conditions.

To make a donation or for more information about Make-A-Wish, visit makeawish.org.au or call 1800 032 260.

 

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