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Patients with terminal illnesses often find meaning by crossing off items from their bucket lists. And they may even reap health benefits.

Children with life-threatening diseases who had their wishes fulfilled had lower depression and anxiety levels, and focused less on their physical limitations, according to a small study of Israeli children published last year in the journal Quality of Life Research. They also felt more hopeful about achieving goals. That’s big for anyone facing the end of life, when the loss of control can shadow every day.


In the US, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants children their wishes. The Dream Foundation does the same for adults with later-stage terminal illnesses. Here are the top five requests the charities receive:


Help paying for basic needs

Many adults with terminal illnesses face financial hardships that put even small comforts beyond reach: air conditioners, for instance, or scooters or lift chairs. Many also ask for help paying a utility bill, to keep the lights on and power their medical devices.

A vacation

Hawaii is the top choice, but national parks are in high demand as well.


Travel to a family reunion

Patients often request help paying for travel, food, and accommodations so they can say their last goodbyes.

Tickets to Disneyland

Adults love the Magic Kingdom nearly as much as kids, and often seek a final trip to the theme park billed as “happiest place on Earth.”

A day on the town

Many patients ask for simpler pleasures: a day at the spa or a dinner at a favorite restaurant.


A trip to Walt Disney World

Adults lean toward Disneyland in California, but for kids, there’s no place like Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. This is their top request.

A meeting with a celebrity

Kids love to meet sports heroes, but they also make some unexpected requests. A 12-year old with a congenital liver disease, for instance, met the production team from the Animal Planet show “River Monsters.” A 17-year old with a life-threatening bone disease visited with the musical performer Adam Lambert.

International travel

For thrill-seekers who have some physical stamina, this might mean a snowboarding trip in the Alps. For others, the goal is Paris.

Trip to Hawaii

Oahu is the most popular destination.

Shopping spree

A 6-year-old with leukemia was granted a six-minute shopping spree at Target. His take: $22,000 worth of Christmas gifts for himself and his family.

  • A friend of my brother put him on the Make A Wish List. My 3 sisters and my self feel he should not be on that list. He does have money do what ever he wants do and go. We feel he is taking it away from someone who needs the money. We always ask him to go on vacation to different places. His mind says yes but his body says no. We believe this friend of his has different intentions in mind. Us 4 sisters are the ones that take care of him. he lives with 1 of my sisters and we all live no more then 4 blocks away. She has done things to my brother but he never tells her that he gets upset with her with the stuff she does. Thank You

  • I have a terminal liver disease (NASH) and have spent months trying to make simple memories with my young girls. Being an adult, not having cancer has slowed any progress. I am mentally exhausted as my organs are beginning to fail. We have yet to even see a zoo.

  • As we walked out of the hospital after being told hospice is what’s best for my husband, so his organs can relax and let go…Angelo said there are so many things I need to do, now I’ll never see Italy….please help me make this happen

  • This is an awesome site! I wish my diseased husband and I had found it before his end of material life.
    He wished for me to keep the family together and if there is a definition for that other than what I understand, l it only differs in extend!

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