Little Jensyn Porter doesn’t need much to feel like a princess. Her loving family gives her the royal treatment, a comfort any 5-year-old needs.
But a trip to Disney World never hurt a soul, not when you’re the guest of honor in the Magic Kingdom.
Porter, 5, traveled to Orlando last March to see her simple wish come true as part of the Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity designed to infuse hope and positive memories into those in need.
Porter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells, during the summer of 2008. She’s since undergone a surgery to install a port in her chest for often physically draining chemotherapy treatments.
Early on, the treatment was aggressive and painful for the little girl and her family, who watched its youngest member go through what no one that age should.
She’d visit the Children’s Hospital every or every other day for nearly sixth months to receive chemotherapy. Today, she gets treatment just once a month at the clinic. She will receive treatment through her port as well as through her spine when needed. She also takes chemotherapy pills, creating a much less arduous experience for her.
“She’s doing really well now,” her mother Maria, a preschool teacher at Clanton Elementary School, said. “It really is much better.”
Doctors target Oct. 2 as Porter’s final day of treatment after two and a half long years.
“It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by,” Maria said. “It seems like yesterday some days and forever ago on others.”
After her final treatment at the hospital, Jensyn will have regular blood work done and will wait six months to take her chest port out.
Although her disease is life-threatning and the treatments can be grueling, her mother said the child continues to thrive under the conditions and remain happy.
“She’s doing so well, you almost don’t even think of it,” she said.
Maria Porter did not seek out the Kids Wish Network. Randomly, she received a call at her home from a telemarketer seeking donations for the organization. When she told the caller her daughter had a similar disease to ones they accommodated, the caller said Jensyn might qualify for a wish.
“It was a blessing for someone to just call out of the blue like that,” Porter said. “I would have normally just hung up on a telemarketer.”
The representative asked to speak to Jensyn and asked her the one place she always wanted to go. To that the little girl replied, “Disney.”
Taking the hint, the caller saw to the necessary procedure. After filling out the paperwork, including providing several doctor’s letters, the Porter family waited. At first, they said it might be two years before the family could take the trip. But just a few weeks later, they were called back and asked if they could go in the next sixth months.
With her parents, Maria and Jay, and her sister Jaycie, 8, Jensyn embarked on the journey she wished about. It was her and her sister’s first plane ride.
They stayed at the Royal Plaza Hotel and visited each park, including Animal Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). They even had a spare day when they visited Sea World.
They ate at the Royal Table with several familiar Disney princesses in the Magic Kingdom castle, met a number of her favorite characters, took pictures and collected autographs. At the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Theater, the girls dressed up as pirates and enjoyed several theatrics.
Jensysn’s favorite rides were Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, both located in the Magic Kingdom park.
“We did everything she wanted to do,” her mother said. “Her favorite restaurant was the rainforest café.”
Maria Porter said the trip was a humbling experience, especially given the expenses covered by the Kids Wish Network.
“I know how much all of that costs,” she said. “We saw the tickets for everything. It was all paid for. They provided our dinners every night and paid for airfare.”
She said it amazed her how people donated to organizations like the one that helped her daughter through such a troubling time. They helped turn whatever negative her young mind might have noticed into a positive memory she’ll cherish forever. Her ideal trip was her family’s first time to the resort.
“We’d never been there,” her mother said. “That was her wish.”