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Little girl gets a big wish

Make a Wish Foundaton sends family on a trip

 

The family pauses after dinner at Hometown Pizza for a photo. From left are Danique Littlemoon, Serenity Goodlance, Devine Littlemoon, and Oleaupi, Sam and Keyshia Goodlance. - Scott Hunter photo.

Make a wish and it might come true. At least if you're a Grand Coulee 6-year-old with some serious health issues.

The Make a Wish Foundation sent Keyshia Goodlance and her family on a trip across the state last weekend, an answer to Keyshia's wish for a simple shopping trip to buy makeup.

The foundation helps children with life-threatening illnesses to make their wishes come true. They arrange for special treatment with businesses that range from big corporate partners to small-town retailers who just want to do the right thing. The Spokane branch arranges for 85 to 100 wishes a year. Local man Ian Turner, whose brother benefited from the foundation years ago, helped make arrangements for Keyshia's adventure.

Like many little girls, Keyshia enjoys putting on makeup; but unlike most, she had a stroke at the age of 4.

Keyshia has a rare disease called Takayasu's arteritis. It's thought her own immune system is attacking her arteries as if they were foreign substances. Inflammation damages the aorta - the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body - and its main branches. Keyshia's left carotid artery is blocked, explained her mother, Oleaupi, sitting at table at Hometown Pizza Wednesday night.

The occasion was a send-off party, with about 20 friends and family in attendance, before the trip that would start the next day. The foundation paid for the food, with discount help from Hometown Pizza.

Keyshia ate her pizza and played games on an iPad with a broken screen, as her father, Sam, and Oleaupi, related the challenges they face.

Their daughter suffered from frequent fevers and was losing weight for a year before the cause was found. Now, Sam gives her prednisone shots every Wednesday. The steroid causes mood swings and suppresses her immune system. So fear of infection from common viruses is ever present.

"This is very scary for us," her mother said.

They take her to Seattle Children's Hospital every four weeks, but the couple currently has no working car because the used one they bought last year at a local used car lot broke down. They're still making payments, and money is tight. There would have been no presents last Christmas had it not been for the local Trees of Sharing effort.

Oleaupi said a team of 27 doctors are doing research on the disease with a study of Keyshia's DNA. She thinks it's unlikely they'll find a solution anytime soon. And she's been told that children with Takayasu's arteritis have lived anywhere from six months to 14 years.

"We'll just try to enjoy every day with her," she said quietly.

That was easy last weekend. The family picked up a car loaned to them by Jess Ford for the trip, made their way to Seattle, where they would dine at the top of the Space Needle and be picked up at their hotel in a limousine Saturday morning for a shopping spree. They had $1,110 to spend, and corporate partners of the foundation were chipping in. Stops were arranged at Best Buy, Famous Footwear and more, including Macy's, where a personal shopping assistant would help Keyshia with whatever she needed.

She managed to spend $500 on makeup, her mother chuckled Tuesday, recalling the good time.

They had returned home at 4 a.m. Monday morning, Oleaupi said.

That's how it is for the family, even without a foundation backing an expensive adventure. Every day is precious.

"Every day we have with her," Sam said, "we have to make it special."

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