Priya Gander and her husband Daniel have been all over the world with their daughter Riya. But after COVID-19 and Priya’s cervical cancer diagnosis, their biggest goal of going to Disneyland Paris seemed like it would never come to fruition. That is, until they mentioned it to their team at the Michael Sobell Hospice, who then worked with them to arrange the trip in just two days and make this dream come true.
“I don’t even have words. I’m so excited. Riya is a proper Disney little girl, a proper princess. We’ve all grown up around Disney and that’s something that we wanted all the kids to experience as well, for me to do it with them. So, that’s what’s made it more important for me, to be able to have that opportunity to do it with Riya. To create some more memories before I go anywhere.”
Left: Nurses Jo and Donna are ready to support the magical day with a Mickey Mouse suitcase carrying medicine Priya may need. Right: An excited Priya and Daniel leave the Hospice to get to their train to Paris.
To ensure that Priya could enjoy the trip safely, Jo and Donna, two nurses from the Hospice team, accompanied her. Priya said, “The Hospice team have just been absolutely amazing, I can’t fault them even in the slightest bit. We’ve got two nurses coming with fully packed equipment. They didn’t have to provide us with two carers and all this extra medication, but they’re doing it all just to make sure that we can get through to the end of the day and make it back.”
Her husband, Daniel, added “They’ve sorted out the transport from the Hospice and have helped with the trains and things like that. They’ve done all the risk assessments; all the doctors and nurses have been working to make it happen. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without this place, we’re so lucky! They’ve supported us all the way. We’re really overwhelmed.”
“We’ve all grown up around Disney” – Priya’s family joined her at Disneyland Paris for this special day.
Described by Daniel as the “pinnacle” of what the couple wanted to do, Priya and her family went to Disneyland Paris on Wednesday 23 November and they truly had a day to remember.
From face painting to fairytale castles, the trip was an incredibly special time for everyone. The family had two main goals to accomplish on the day: to meet the Disney Princesses and to watch the Disney Parades, both staples to the Disneyland experience and ticked off their list before the end.
Whilst the chance to meet a Disney Princess seemed unlikely at first, as the family were told the experience was closed for the day, after explaining their unique circumstances they were granted special access. They were able to meet not one but two princesses, including a favourite of Riya’s, Ariel the mermaid!
Donna, one of the nurses who accompanied Priya, explained “it was just an amazing experience. To see how it lit a spark in Priya during the two days run up and the impact it has had on her mental wellbeing is just so positive. It’s a great privilege to be involved in someone’s care and to support them in achieving something as special as this trip.”
Left: Priya having her face painted at Disneyland to match her daughter, Riya. Right: Mum and daughter sport sparkling face paint.
Another magical experience for Priya was when they caught the evening parade. Watching beloved Disney characters, beautiful LED lights and the smiles on everyone’s faces was an ecstatic moment and perfectly encapsulated the specialness of the entire trip: a time for sharing and making memories with family.
By the iconic Disneyland castle, Priya said to Michael Sobell Hospice Nurses, Jo and Donna, “Thank you so, so, so much guys for making this happen. Without your lot’s help I don’t think I ever would have made it here like this and made so much memories like this, thank you so, so much…I can’t say how grateful I am that you have made this happen for me…it’s been absolutely amazing.”