When 9-year-old Selina began getting headaches and feeling tired as early as 7 p.m., her mother, Bernice, suspected eye strain and took her to their optometrist. After examining Selina closely, he asked Selina and her sister Natasha to wait outside. Instead of writing a prescription, he told Bernice, “You need to go right now to the hospital. Most likely your daughter has a brain tumour.”
The period that followed was a terrifying time when everything happened very quickly. Selina has anastrocytoma tumour on her brain, which the doctors tried to address through surgery. Selina made a partial recovery, but in 2009 an MRI revealed that she would need another operation.
The second surgery was even more complex and fraught with risk, and the months leading up to it were harrowing for Selina and her family. They did not know if she would survive the 12-hour operation, and even if she did, there was a real risk of Selina losing all her memories and her mobility.
During this time, they learned that Selina was to be granted a wish from The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Remarkably, Selina’s first reaction was to think of others. “There must be someone who needs this more than me,” she said. Between tests, injections, migraines and hospitalizations, Selina and her family began planning a trip to Hawaii.
“It was still very challenging,” recalls Bernice. “But anticipating the trip really helped brighten this time for us. The impact of Children’s Wish on our lives was huge, beyond words.”
Selina came through her operation, and by February 2010, Selina, Natasha and her family set off. “I picked Hawaii because it was a special place that we might not get a chance to go to otherwise,” said Selina, “and I always wanted to see a volcano.”
Selina chatters excitedly about her trip, recalling not only the smoking volcano, but many other highlights on their dizzying agenda: she loved the waterpark, snorkeled in the ocean, and even tried parasailing and jet skiing.
“The helicopter ride was amazing too,” she says, “especially when the pilot dipped low, close to the ocean, so we could see the whales up close.”