Victoria, a 16-year-old girl from Sparks diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, was granted her wish to visit the Royal College of Surgeons of England by Make-A-Wish Northeastern California and Northern Nevada and Renown Children’s Hospital. Follow Victoria as she journeyed to England to enjoy her dream come true.
Sixteen-year-old Victoria has been fascinated with medicine as long as she can remember, even before she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.
“I want to help kids,” Victoria says. “I want to make them feel better and heal.”
She aspires to become a pediatric hematologist oncologist, and has always dreamed of visiting the Royal College of Surgeons to see the famous Two-Headed Boy of Bengal skull and other rare medical artifacts. And now, Renown Children’s Hospital and Make-A-Wish are honored to make Victoria’s dream a reality.
We invite you to follow Victoria’s great adventure as she traveled to London and fulfill her dreams.
Sunday, March 26
After a long flight, we finally arrived in London. Our driver was such a fun, nice guy who gave us tips on getting around the city and places to eat. I wanted some real fish and chips and he suggested going to a pub. We went to one not too far from our hotel and they were so good! Afterwards we walked around a bit and took pictures of the River Thames and Big Ben. My dad showed me how to change settings on my camera with the low lighting so I got some fantastic pictures.
Monday, March 27
We had a train leaving for Edinburgh, Scotland, so we all had to get up really early. We ran through the station to get on the tube, then a connecting tube, then the train to Edinburgh. We got to ride in these really comfy seats and they brought us breakfast and tea.
We arrived in Edinburgh just after noon and it was gorgeous. All the buildings looked so majestic and beautiful. We walked to Edinburgh Castle and went inside, looking at all of the rooms. We saw the Scottish Crown Jewels and a magnificent memorial for fallen soldiers from 1914 to today. We got to see the grand dining room and the birth room.
We shopped a little after that. I bought some tea and soaps for my friends back home. It was a really long day but I had so much fun and can’t wait for the rest of the trip!
Tuesday, March 28
We went on the Official London Tour bus today and I got to sit up on the top of a double-decker bus. I’m so glad the weather has been nice, so we didn’t have windows blocking the pictures. We saw about everything you could possibly want to see, but my favorite was St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s probably the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Then we went to a candy store down the street and it looked like the one from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It had little chocolate ducks and hedgehogs which were so cute! Then we stopped by this tea shop with walls just lined with different kinds of tea. We bought some for us and some to take home to our friends. The Turkish apple tea smelled amazing and I can’t wait to try it!
Wednesday, March 29
Today was the day — we went to the Royal College of Surgeons! I was bouncing up and down as I waited for my tour guide, Hayley. She came out and welcomed us, taking us up to their library which was FILLED with beautiful, old books. Then she took us to the Hunterian Museum, which was breathtaking. I can’t even explain how astonishing I found it. The walls were filled with specimens, each one described carefully. John Hunter (the guy who had the collection originally) was fascinated by anatomy and animals, so he collected a great deal of them along with paintings of unique animals and people. They even had a painting of Chang and Eng Bunker — the original Siamese Twins (another pair of twins I’m obsessed with)! The museum had diseased organs of every kind with cancers, inflammation, deformities and infections. They had a section in which they looked at surgery through the ages from the days of bloodletting, non-sanitized operating theatres and wide-awake surgeries to today’s prosthetics and transplants.
Then I got to see THE skull. The Boy of Bengal, the craniopagus parasiticus skull. Out of respect for him, no photographs were allowed to be taken but it was SO COOL. I had never realized that the skulls hadn’t fused completely and that he and his family had been shunned. In addition, his midwife had actually thrown him into the fire after he was born and he survived!
It was kind of a shock to even be looking at it. I mean, I made a wish and it really got granted. It’s sort of insane. Of all the things in the world, this is what I wanted most and I really got it. It just made my heart fill with that warm, fuzzy feel.
After touring the museum, they took us into the operating theatre (not open to the public) and I got to intubate their practice dummies. I got the tube in on the first try for the first dummy but it took three tries for the expensive, hardcore mannequin. The really cool mannequin was hooked up a computer via WiFi and you could make it do all kinds of things.
Ben, one of the people there who showed me how to use the dummies, let me do all sorts of things with it like increase heart rate, blow pupils, or make it speak/yell. He let my brother play with him too. Then we used the laparoscopic surgery simulator. We inserted the tools and camera into the “patient” and placed rings, stacked sugar cubes and pulled petals (it’s way harder than it sounds). Then we got to suture fake skin using the simulator which was near impossible!
Everyone was so nice to me. They even gave me a super cool goodie bag with RCS notepads, planners, pens, scrubs and a real suturing kit with professional training skin.
After the Royal College of Surgeons, we went and had some AMAZING Indian food and I got this delicious rose yogurt drink, chicken curry and a dessert made of fruits, custard, mango puree and ice cream.
We walked to the London Eye, a huge observation wheel, and went all the way to the top. The view was breathtaking!
After that, we went to Harrod’s which is a giant, really expensive department store. We mostly just looked around but I got a couple cute things, like a little lemur wearing British clothing. My feet hurt so much from all the walking but totally worth it!
Then we finally got to have afternoon tea (at 9 p.m.). It was so fun! There were little macaroon sandwiches with raspberries, scones, English black tea and little sandwiches. They had these very pretty towers for the snacks and cute tea cups and saucers. This has definitely been the best day on the trip (so far)!
Thursday, March 30
We started the day at the Imperial College London, where I met with an orthopaedic surgeon. He was such a sweet guy and he took me on his rounds, where we met patients who had just had partial or full knee replacements. We checked to see how they were recovering and prescribed medication/exercise if needed.
Then I met with other researchers who showed me cutting-edge technology they’ve been testing to personalize and improve care. They said it won’t be available to the rest of the world for about 10 years and I got to use it! There were these awesome goggles that can help surgeons with hip replacements and have less than one degree of error.
Then I talked with a doctor about projects he’d been working on with bone density. First there’s the issues of breast cancer and prostate cancer hormone treatment that severely reduces bone density, and secondly we discussed the medications used to treat osteoporosis. Everything about it was absolutely fascinating.
Then we took the train out to Bath where we saw the Roman Baths, and it was incredible. It’s amazing to see something almost 2,000 years old and how beautiful the bath and temple were.
Friday, March 31
Another awesome day today. We started off with Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace. While waiting for it to start, my brother and I watched the ducks and took lots of pictures of them (even though they’re the same kind we have here!). The Guards came and some of them were on horses. They all looked so proud to be there.
We went to Harrod’s next to use the bathroom (London doesn’t have a lot of bathrooms … interesting), and my mom and I went shopping in the gift shop while my brother went to “look at something,” He actually went to the fourth floor and bought me this adorable sheep I’d been begging for. His name is Captain Shlamb (named after Captain Sham from a show I love and because he is a sheep/lamb).
We stopped by Royal Albert Hall and Lamborghini London so my brother could take pictures, but I got really tired and nauseous. We rested, had lunch and I drank some ginger ale and took Tylenol, which had me feeling a lot better.
Then we went to 221b Baker St. to see the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It was so cool! Almost all the furniture was 120-plus years old and they had was sculptures of all the characters.
I miss my bed and the states themselves, but I really don’t wanna go home. I’ve had so much fun on this trip and I’m gonna miss London so much. It was sad leaving Waterloo Station for the last time (this trip anyways), and I’m so bummed about flying out tomorrow. But this has been amazing and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.
Learn more about everyday miracles at Renown Children’s Hospital online.