"Elspeth has come through this very traumatic time with an optimistic outlook. Granting this special wish for her has been a very important part of that." – Claire, wish mum
Elspeth's family first realized something was wrong when at 18 months old, she kept falling over and bumping into things. After tests, she was referred for an MRI that showed the devastating news that Elspeth was living with neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumors to grow along the nerves.
Due to its position by her optic nerves, doctors were unable to operate and chemotherapy treatment was used to shrink the tumor. Sadly, her immune system reacted badly to the chemotherapy and the treatment had to be stopped. Instead, Elspeth underwent regular MRI scans to monitor the tumor. This meant that Elspeth’s eyesight deteriorated and she had to be registered as blind. It was an incredibly hard time for Elspeth and her whole family.
Elspeth’s mum, Claire, a tumor immunologist, knew treatment would be intense. She did her best to help Elspeth adapt and keep her positive. Due to her limited vision, Elspeth relies on touch and sound to experience the world around her. She first cuddled one of her mum’s special teddies when she was two – and this kick-started her love of teddies and Charlie Bears in particular. Elspeth now has a house full of special Charlie Bears which she identifies by their weight, texture, smell and clothing.
While Elspeth was enduring treatment, her mum even contacted Charlie Bears to check that her softest bear, Snowball, didn’t contain any metal so she could take her into the MRI scan with her. Snowball has accompanied her ever since.
When Elspeth and her family turned to Make-A-Wish, it came as no surprise that her one-true-wish was to visit the Charlie Bear Gallery – a new museum in Cornwall, England that housed all of the Charlie Bears ever designed.
Thanks to the support of people, like you, we made her wish a magical reality.
Elspeth and her family were flown from their home to Exeter in Devon. They rode in a limousine to Launceston in Cornwall, where Charlie Bears Gallery and warehouse is based. Not only did Elspeth visit the new gallery where her favorite bears lived, she officially opened it as ‘guest of honor’ by pulling on a pink ribbon attached to the front doors of the museum. Above the doors now sits a bronze plaque stating that Elspeth Rose Meikle had opened the gallery on 1 July 2016!
Elspeth’s wish meant so much to her and her family. Her mum, Claire told us, “She still talks about all the people she met there and all the things she did. She’s just blossoming. Elspeth has come through this very traumatic and scary time with a strong, optimistic outlook. Granting this special wish for her has been a very important part of that.”
On the way home, Elspeth was asleep within five minutes with her new Elspeth Bear across her lap. When she woke up, she sat up immediately and the first thing out of her mouth was: ‘Oh I had a lovely day when Charlie gave me Elspeth Bear!’