CARTERET, N.J. – A teen suffering from brain cancer has his wish to visit Hawaii granted by international children’s charity Kids Wish Network and local Carteret sponsors.
In 2008, 18-year-old Joey began experiencing slurred speech, personality changes and severe headaches. A CT scan showed a tumor in his brain. To relieve some of the pressure the mass was putting on his brain, Joey was taken into surgery. A week later, Joey’s doctors performed a craniotomy to remove as much of the tumor as they could and, afterwards, Joey began the long recovery process.
A year later, Joey’s headaches started up again and doctors discovered that they were caused by a buildup of fluid in his skull. To relieve this new pressure, his doctors surgically implanting a shunt in his skull. By 2010, what was left of the tumor had grown to three times its original size and was encroaching on Joey’s brain stem.
He was started on chemotherapy in December of 2010 to shrink the tumor for surgery and finished the treatment in April of 2011; in July, Joey underwent a very delicate brain surgery to remove the larger tumor. This surgery put Joey in a coma for 15 days and ICU for a month. He suffered short term memory loss and some of his ability to speak. Since then, Joey has been started on radiation therapy and just recently underwent another surgery to update the shunt in his head that helps drain the excess fluid.
After all that he has been through, Joey truly deserves a break, which came to him in the form of a wish from international children’s charity Kids Wish Network. He chose a trip to Hawaii and, thanks to generous local sponsors in New Jersey along with sponsors in Hawaii, Joey’s tropical wish was just granted.
“It was really more than what he had wished for,” said Joey’s mother, Sandra. “We are so grateful to Kids Wish Network for making our son’s wish come true and bringing a smile to his face again.”
Joey’s Hawaiian wish was 7 days full of exciting activities and sumptuous dinners, all planned by Joey’s Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator. Joey and his family were also given top-notch accommodations at the gorgeous Sheraton Waikiki, where Sandra said the family were treated like royalty.
Some of the activities planned for Joey were a dolphin swim at Dolphin Quest, a tour of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, a real Hawaiian luau, jet skiing, and even a tour of Iiolani Palace.
For Joey, swimming with Noah the dolphin, touring Pearl Harbor, tasting mouth-watering Kalua pig, watching authentic hula dancing, jet skiing and learning about Hawaii’s history firsthand are certainly things he will never forget. Not to mention, every minute he spent in Hawaii he shared with his parents, which meant more than words can express.
Now that Joey is back home in New Jersey, he is back on schedule for his rehabilitation courses. And, though he does suffer some short-term memory loss because of his condition, Sandra ensures that her son will never forget his Hawaiian wish.
“He may have some short term memory loss, but his experience in Hawaii is something that he remembers,” says Sandra. “He always talks about the tremendous experience he had in Hawaii. We truly cherish this wonderful experience given to us. Through all the pains and struggles he encountered in his fight against brain cancer, it’s really heartwarming to know that organizations and foundations such as Kids Network and individuals who support this cause are out there. It’s priceless to see my son smile again.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Joey’s wish extra special: St. Joseph Church, VFW #4410 Woodbridge Memorial Post, Elks Lodge 4034, Harrison East Newark Elks Lodge #2326, Bound Brook Moose Lodge #988, American Legion Post 304, White Rose Inc., Alamo, Sheraton Waikiki, Hawaiian Islands Medical, Cheeseburger In Paradise, Dolphin Quest, Top of Waikiki, U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Germaine’s Luau, Hawaii’s Surf Bus, Haleiwa Joe’s, Iolani Palace, Hooters of Honolulu, South Pacific Motorsports and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs. Every child deserves a chance at happiness; a wish is just a way of bringing them that joy. If you would like to sponsor a child’s wish or if you know a child who is suffering from a life-threatening illness and may be in need of Kids Wish Network’s wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org