Florence knew her wish would have something to do with animals; she loves them so. Her decision to swim with dolphins was automatic when she learned she would be granted a wish. It was a once in a lifetime event for Ninon, Florence’s mother. “We had the opportunity to see her healthy and living her wish. We saw our three girls having fun together.”
The wish provided a much needed reprieve for the entire family after a terribly difficult period. “It was the whole family for a week, having fun,” remembers Florence’s father, Frédéric. “She enjoyed it, so did her sisters. We all made the most of it – we didn’t have to think about anything else.”
“I loved it because I got to swim with dolphins and be with my family,” enthuses Florence.
Two years ago, while looking at pictures of her four-year-old daughter on her computer,
Ninon confirmed a strange glow in her right eye that wasn’t there in the right eye. “Her pupil was white instead of having the red reflection you usually see in pictures.” An ophthalmology appointment sent them directly to the hospital where the diagnosis of retinal cancer was made.
There were few options available, since radiation and chemotherapy won’t restore sight and Florence had already lost 80% of her sight in the right eye. Surgery to remove the eye was the best option.
The prospect was devastating at first. “It was painful for us. For weeks, I went around wishing it could be my eye, not hers. She was so small, so young,” recalls Ninon.
Frédéric agrees: “we remained focused on her, on how she was going to come out of this and lead a normal life. There was a sort of guilt we were feeling, wishing it could be us instead of her.”
At the same time, as parents, they had to remain strong for their other daughters at home.
“After all, they were struck by the same blow we were. It was so sad for them to see their little sister so sick,” remembers Ninon.
Through the attitude she adopted towards her condition, Florence became the greatest source of courage and wisdom for her parents, teaching them a most valuable life lesson.
“Florence showed us how to be positive and to always see the good side of life,” reflects Ninon. “She was the first to laugh about her illness and her condition. She would say ‘having one eye isn’t a problem; now I only have to cover one eye when I’m playing hide and seek and that’s easier than covering two eyes.’ We then knew that we didn’t have to pity her situation. She is as she is: healthy and positive.”