Wishes and Wellness
When Tiffany Rowe was given the chance to make a wish that would be granted, she chose to dance with Michael Jackson onstage during his Bad concert tour. Rowe was 15 at the time and dealing with the pain of treatment for idiopathic aplastic anemia, otherwise known as bone marrow failure. At a time when she had felt completely “betrayed” by her body, dancing with Michael allowed her to feel “at peace in her own skin again” ]. Although it was originally believed that she would live no longer than six months with treatment, Rowe is now 46 years old and believes her wish is undeniably a part of making her healing possible.
A study recently published in Pediatric Research shows that other children who get their wishes fulfilled have positive health experiences afterwards. For instance, children who had wishes fulfilled were 2.5 times less likely to be admitted to hospitals unexpectedly and 1.9 times less likely to require emergency medical attention . This study is big news for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as Dr. Patel, one of the researchers and section chief of neurology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, states “for the first time, this study lets us say that a wish is more than just nice, and something that potentially can help the health of a child get better over time – impacting healthcare utilization and reducing dollars spent on healthcare” .
Other studies have been done testing the effects of wishes on children. A 2015 study found that children who were granted wishes showed fewer stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms and even reported higher occurrences of positive feelings such as hope. Moreover, these children experienced a “greater health-related quality of life, with a significant reduction in their perceptions of their own physical limitations” .
A 2011 study highlighted the benefits of a wish on pediatric patients, as well as the effect the wish had on the child’s family members and their health journey. For instance, three out of four children had health improvements as well as an eagerness to beat their medical condition. Additionally, nine in ten parents reported feeling “empowered” to deal with their child’s illness, while nine in ten families stated that the child’s siblings felt less anxiety and fear .
The results of these studies show the various positive effects of a wish on a pediatric patient and the patient’s family members. The works published give readers quantitative insight into how an individual’s feelings of hope can drastically improve treatment, as in Rowe’s case.
Tara Haelle, “How Do Wishes Granted to Very Sick Kids Affect Their Health?,” NPR, November 20, 2018.
Make-A-Wish Contributors, “What The Experts Say,” 2018.