Making Up for Lost Time
During the entire course of his chemotherapy, Nathan’s immune system was too weak to handle any additional stress. “We were in isolation even before COVID,” his father, Jarret, explains. “We were looking forward to celebrating the end [of his treatment], but then the pandemic happened.”
The ‘celebration’ was thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which Nathan’s family was introduced to by the medical staff at the hospital. Despite his wish being granted, they couldn’t travel until he was well enough to handle the potential exposure.
Nathan’s wish was to meet an Ice Age paleontologist, and in the summer of 2022, he and his parents were finally able celebrate his good health and a new chapter in his life. His wish took the family on a trip to Whitehorse and its renowned research facility, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. The true Make-A-Wish experience began as soon as they boarded the plane: “I got to meet the captain of the flight,” Nathan recalls. Jarret adds, “The airline called his name when we boarded, and we got to go up front to see the pilot area. They went above and beyond.”
Excitement for a Lifetime
After reaching Whitehorse, the family – Nathan, his mother Candice, and his father Jarret – spent a week in the near-24-hour daylight, receiving VIP treatments and experiencing once-in-a-lifetime excursions. They went on guided field trips, helping to dig up materials from ancient horses, wolves, and mammoths, and Nathan got to help clean bones at the Beringia Centre’s lab. They visited an old gold mine site, where Nathan had one of his most memorable experiences: driving a ‘rock truck’ while helping the scientists search for more bones underground. They even met the Minister of Tourism for the territory, who gifted Nathan with a handmade carving from a local artist.
The entire trip left a big mark not only on this budding young scientist but his whole family. “[Make-A-Wish] was amazing,” Jarret says, “Everyone, from the start to the very end, was amazing. From the flight attendants to the staff at the Beringia Centre. It was stress-free and everything was taken care of – the food, the travelling, and what we did during the days. During his treatment, he was so ill that we couldn’t go anywhere for years. It was really special for all of us to have that time together now as a family.”
Nathan is proud to show off the mementos from his trip – a huge mammoth tusk and tooth, given to him by the scientists he met. Inspired by what he saw, he now confidently expresses, “I want to be an Ice Age paleontologist, and discover new species.” For other kids waiting for a wish, he is quick to add, “It’s worth the wait. Don’t worry.”