"He made her laugh uncontrollably, a laugh we hadn’t heard in months"

Written by Parvina, Sfiyah's mother. 

Today is a special day for our daughter Sfiyah, she’s like a bottle of fizzy pop ready to burst!

She’s been asked to attend the Stars for Starlight event, where she’ll be a part of the Oxford Street Christmas lights switch on with Captain of the Lionesses’, Millie Bright! Christmas Festivities have come early, and we’ll cherish every moment this year, as last year our Christmas was cancelled...

Sfiyah was admitted into hospital on Christmas Day. As the dinner was cooking and the presents lay unopened, we were in a state of panic as our daughter’s health deteriorated. Sfiyah had caught Chicken Pox which caused complications, as she suffers from a condition called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and is immunosuppressed. Sfiyah was devastated. 

Days went by in hospital, she began to refuse treatment, wouldn’t eat, and her mood became low. She was so unwell and also emotional to be away from her family during such a special occasion. It had a huge impact on her, and us, as a family.

One day in hospital, a head peered through the door, it was a health play specialist called John and he spent time with Sfiyah, talking about her condition, worries and her wishes too. He made her laugh uncontrollably, a laugh we hadn’t heard in months. She began to eat and have her treatment, she even learnt how to swallow tablets. So she didn’t miss out on Christmas, he gave her lots of toys to play with and the Starlight Nintendo Switch to play on whilst she had her IV treatment.

This gave Sfiyah the strength and determination to get better. John’s support is invaluable to us, and thanks to Starlight, he has play resources to use with all the children on the ward. Sfiyah thinks all children in hospital should have access to a heath play specialist, it would make them feel better and help them through their hospital journey…

We arrive in London, the atmosphere in our car is like a disco – hyper, our hearts thumping with excitement! At our hotel on Bond Street we’re torn between jumping into the warm, welcoming beds or getting ready for the big event! Sfiyah decides, ‘Mummy, you get ready first while I have a little lie down to rest my joints’, she jumped onto the bed! 

As the time comes to leave, I give Sfiyah her medication to ensure nothing spoils her special moment, and we set off to meet the Starlight team at Willows on the Roof, on top of John Lewis. It’s like a scene from a movie, full of Christmas spirit and glowing magical domes. We meet the team and make our way down to Oxford Street where we meet Millie Bright.

Sfiyah’s elated when she finally meets the Captain of the Lionesses! ‘Mummy, I can’t believe it, it’s actually Millie Bright!’, I’m as starstruck as Sfiyah, and we both smile at one another and hug tightly. Seeing the lights switched on and light up Oxford Street was truly breath-taking. The day Sfiyah had waited ages for was finally here and she never imagined it to be as beautiful as it was. 

For me, seeing the stars light up and my family together brought a tear to my eye, it was a truly magical moment. Crowds around us smiled as the spirit of Christmas spread through the atmosphere. Sfiyah had photos taken with special guests and a short interview which was later on the news!

We went back to the rooftop for the celebration event, and Sfiyah recited a beautiful poem she had written. After a roar of applause, I told her she should be very proud of herself for being so brave. There was not a dry eye in the audience, everyone was so touched by her story.

Sfiyah was emotional as it reminded her of her journey to this day and how far she had come. As the day drew to a close, she said, ‘today has been the greatest day ever!’. It was such a joy to celebrate how far Sfiyah has come since her diagnosis. We’re so proud of her.

Thank you, Starlight, for an amazing, once in a lifetime experience!