Make-A-Wish: Phoenix’s second chance at childhood
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Phoenix Mendoza of Anchorage is an 8-year-old kid who loves adventure.
He described his experience in detail of one of his favorite rides at Disney World, the Guardians of the Galaxy. Using hand gestures, Phoenix exuded plenty of excitement.
“You start slow and all of a sudden you go around then all of a sudden you go back down, up and all of a sudden you go down a night roller coaster,” he said.
He and his family took a trip to Florida in January, but this wasn’t just any vacation — it was Phoenix’s wish.
Happy and healthy today, that wasn’t the case for him five years ago.
“He’d be great, and then all of a sudden, he’d be not great, you know, just kind of a typical thing when a kid gets a bug,” said Melissa Mendoza, Phoenix’s mom.
At the time, Phoenix’s condition wasn’t improving and that’s when Melissa figured out something just wasn’t right.
“I knew something was wrong,” Melissa said. “That’s why I just told my husband, I’m like ... ‘We’re going to the doctor, again. They’re missing something, something is wrong.’”
Something was wrong. Doctors told them Phoenix’s white blood cell count was off the charts and at 3 years old, he was officially diagnosed.
“It’s called high-risk pre B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or they refer to it as ALL,” said Melissa.
As scary as the news was to hear, the Mendozas didn’t let fear win.
“The key to it is you never let yourself have a bad day. Just let yourself have a bad moment and you can get through those so much easier than you can get with a bad day,” said Frank Mendoza, Phoenix’s dad.
“Our mindset went to just like, we have to conquer. We have to survive. We can get through this. We’ll work as a family and get through it,” added Melissa.
Phoenix spent 35 days in the hospital undergoing life-saving treatment with his mom, dad and brothers by his side. Thanks to Make-A-Wish, Phoenix’s trip to Disney World was like getting a second chance at childhood.
“Just seeing your child be a kid with no restrictions — and not just a normal kid — but like the only kid that matters in the whole world. It was just, you know, it felt like that was the end of cancer,” Frank said.
Phoenix doesn’t remember much about his time being sick, but he remembers his favorite rides, food and characters from his trip, all memories the Mendozas don’t take for granted.
In addition to the chance to see a future for their son, now that cancer is in the past.
“It was just such validation that he can finally just be a kid again,” said Melissa.
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