When wishes come true

After all the heartache in her short life, my daughter deserved some magic

Published by: Jemma Gillard
Published on: 5 January 2012

Once upon a time in the heart of Edinburgh lived a pretty little girl called Victoria. She spent her days begging her mummy to brush her golden hair, dressing up in beautiful pink tutus, and dreaming of meeting her prince charming. Then an evil villain threatened to destroy her fairytale...
If there was one thing my daughter Victoria loved, it was having a fuss made of her. But this morning, as I pulled her soft blonde hair off her face with a glittery clip, she squirmed away. ‘Are you all right, love?' I asked Victoria, two.
‘Don't feel well,' she sulked.
She was usually so happy. Even when her baby brother James had been born a few months earlier, she hadn't been jealous. But she'd been low for a few days now.
‘I know what will make you feel better,' I grinned, pulling her favourite Disney princess dress out of the wardrobe. But Victoria flopped back on her bed and closed her eyes. Blimey, she must be ill.
I took her straight to our local GP, who sent her for blood tests. A few days later, me and my husband Robin were asked to take Victoria to hospital to see a specialist.
‘I'm afraid Victoria has leukaemia,' the consultant said. ‘It's type 3, quite aggressive, we need to begin treatment immediately.'
Looking at my little girl sleeping peacefully in her buggy, panic rose. ‘She... she'll live though?' I asked.
‘The sooner we begin chemo, the better her chances of recovery will be.' My stomach churned. He wouldn't confirm she'd survive...
‘She'll be fine,' Robin urged. I nodded. I had to be brave for her.
The following Monday, we packed a bag for her hopsital stay. ‘The doctor's going to make you feel better,' I said. ‘But it's going to take time. Mummy will stay with you.'
Victoria looked at the pyjamas in her case. ‘Want this,' she said, pulling out dressing-up clothes, pink brush and play make-up.
‘There won't be time for dressing up...' I started. Her shoulders slumped, eyes downcast... ‘Okay,' I said.
We spent the next week sitting on a bed in the cancer ward, reading Cinderella stories while toxic chemicals flooded my tiny girl's system. ‘Again, Mummy.'
‘Once upon a time...' I'd read.
Back home, Victoria could barely lift her head off her pillow. Even her favourite cartoons couldn't keep my poorly little princess awake.
‘Our Sleeping Beauty,' I sighed, as she dozed on the sofa. Would our story have a happy ending?
As the months went on, it looked less likely. With each bout of chemo, Victoria seemed to become weaker. She picked up every virus going, even swine flu.
Her favourite games - making tea for her dollies and playing hairdressers - fell by the wayside, especially when her blonde locks fell out. ‘It'll grow back, I promise,' I said.
Her princess dresses gathered dust as her fairytale life turned into a nightmare.
Then, one day, she was sitting in her highchair when she went floppy. ‘Victoria, are you okay?'
Her eyes stared blankly ahead, dribble poured from her mouth. Oh my God! Bundling up my little girl, I grabbed James and drove straight to hospital. ‘She's had a stroke,' the consultant said. ‘It's a reaction to the chemo - her body can't cope.'
‘Why her again?' I wept. ‘Hasn't she been through enough?'
The next 48 hours were critical as we waited to see what damage had been done. But, thankfully, the stroke was mild, and we were told Victoria would make a full recovery.
‘She's really been through it
this year,' I sniffed to Robin, as I tucked her back up in bed at home. I wondered just how much more our little princess could take.
Thankfully, as winter snow melted and spring took hold, Victoria seemed to perk up a bit. Her hair even grew back - although now it was brown. ‘And it's curly,' I said.
By April, Victoria was dressing up in her tutus and making tea for her dollies again. And she was so excited when the Royal Wedding was on TV. She put on her prettiest dress, and was glued to the screen.
‘Look, Princess Kate has brown curly hair just like you,' I grinned.
‘I wish I was a princess,' she said sadly, giving me a hug. ‘In a castle.'
‘That sounds lovely,' I said.
Later, I told Robin about it. ‘I'd give anything to make her wish come true, make her smile again.'
‘Why not write to the Make-A-Wish Foundation?' he said. ‘The nurse gave you that leaflet at her last appointment.'
‘Good idea,' I grinned. I was over the moon when they said they'd grant our daughter's wish.
The next month, our ‘fairy godmother' Phillip, 31, came from the foundation.
‘Every princess needs a Prince Charming,' he said. ‘Who'd you like that to be?'
‘I want you,' she giggled, looking at him.
‘Me?! Are you sure? Certainly, m'lady.'
In July, Victoria, now four, squealed with joy as a limousine arrived to whisk us away to fairytale land - Dundas Castle in Edinburgh.
As we approached the red carpet, a trumpeter signalled our arrival. Our little girl was going to the ball!
We were then escorted upstairs to a dressing room, Victoria's private quarters for the rest of the day. Laid on the bed was a pink gown and tiara. ‘Wow!' she gasped.
Once she was ready, Phillip - dressed as Prince Charming - came for her. ‘You look lovely,' he said.
Then he escorted Victoria to the ballroom for a dance before she got the chance to ride in a horse-drawn carriage. ‘I feel like a real princess!'
‘You're always my princess,' I smiled.
We had sandwiches and strawberry ice cream for tea, before being entertained by a jester.
All too soon, the day was over. ‘Time to go,' I smiled, as Robin carried her out to the limo.
‘Please, can I keep the dress?' she sighed, as she drifted off to the Land of Make Believe.
Now Princess Victoria is coming to the end of her treatment. She may not live in a castle, but she's looking forward to living happily ever after...


Vera Stewart, 33, Haddington, East Lothian