This week’s Days @ Rays blog post has been written by a very special guest author, one of our wish children and a member of the Rays of Sunshine family, who recently returned to complete her work experience here at Rays of Sunshine HQ.
So, without further ado, let’s hear from Sophie herself…
My name is Sophie and I am 15 years old. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a type of cancer, when I was 10 years old. I was a very active and sporty child and was rarely ill; most years I got 100% attendance but my first year of secondary school my attendance dropped to 50%. I had to have intensive chemotherapy for the first eight months of my treatment, which was chemo three times a week with additional oral chemo tablets every day, as part of my two and a half years of treatment ahead.
I was diagnosed in October 2012 and my maintenance treatment started in the June of 2013. This was chemo, not as often but still with my oral tablets every night. One of the side effects of my treatment was losing my hair and by the January all my hair was gone. One of the hardest things was trying to keep up with my friends, they were running about and doing things I couldn’t do, and all my school work. Although I missed most of my work I still managed to get good grades in all my subjects.
I finished all my treatment two and half years ago now but still get tired easily and sometimes still struggle to keep up, especially as steroids were a part of my treatment and I had to be taken off them because they gave me osteonecrosis in both my ankles, knees and elbows, so I can’t stand for long periods of time without being in pain.
In 2013 I was given a Rays of Sunshine form from one of my doctors and he said I could make a wish. I went home with my Mum and we googled Rays and what they did and what had done in the past. I eventually got stuck on deciding if I wanted to meet One Direction or Olly Murs, and I eventually decided to meet One Direction. We sent my wish pack away and the next I heard about it was when my Mum told me I could meet them.
It was an amazing experience, my Mum, Dad and I went down to London and stayed in a hotel overnight to go meet them the next day. I woke up in the morning really excited and couldn’t believe what I was going to do that day. We went to Frankie and Benny’s, where loads of other wish families were to have the same wish. We all got taken to the cinema around the corner and started to watch the One Direction ‘This Is Us’ film. About halfway through people with flashlights just walked in and I then realised it was them. They were actually real!
They answered a few questions and sang some songs and then it was time for pictures. I was called up first and Jane brought me forward to them and said, “this is Sophie.” Much to my surprise, Harry lifted his arms up and shouted, “GIVE IT UP FOR SOPHIE!” All that was going through my head then was, he had just said my name and knew I existed! I had my picture taken and I got given a bag at the end with their new perfume, and a signed jumper that I still wear to this day.
When I left, I couldn’t stop smiling, and then another surprise came along. All the wish families were walking out and outside there was a huge row of about 30 limos. When I got back to school all my friends were asking me what One Direction were like and asking loads of questions.
Rays of sunshine are an amazing charity, as they never let a child down and never forget about them. They don’t just grant your wish, they invite you back to so many amazing events. I met One Direction for a second time. I was in the wish choir and got to sing at the Royal Albert Hall with Pixie Lott and Aston Merrygold, in the same concert as Ne-Yo, Union J, Conor Maynard, and many other amazing performers.
I met one of my closest friends during the experience. I have also been to the Rays of Sunshine Christmas Party and met Olly Murs. Rays of Sunshine never fail to put a smile on my face and many other children’s faces.
It has now been three years since my wish was granted and I recently returned to the Rays of Sunshine offices to do my Year Ten work experience. I decided to do my work experience with Rays because I thought it would be cool to see what goes on behind the scenes. I was getting to know what the magical wish team do including, making itineraries for some of the wishes coming up, and I even got to put a photo book together for a little girl’s wish she had recently had.
Everyone tries their best to make a wish come true, even if it’s nearly impossible, they don’t give up until it happens.
Thank you for having me back to see what it is really like behind the Sunshine scene!