Archer’s Story – ‘I wish to have a pet lizard.’

Archer, age 6, cancer

Archer is a reptile-savvy six-year-old who discovered his love for lizards during one of the most difficult journeys of his life. Archer related to the scaly critters because he saw them as solitary, brave and kind, said his mom, Jill. “Lizards illuminated his life,” she added.

Since he learned of their existence, Archer has collected lizard-themed photos, activity books, and toys. At the age of four, he owned a rubber life-sized lizard named Gekkie that he used to feed, bathe, and walk on a leash; he was devastated when his beloved toy went missing.

Archer’s difficult journey began when he was two years old and complained of a sore stomach. The pain worsened so Jill, and dad Graham, rushed him to a hospital. Doctors couldn’t pinpoint a cause and Jill insisted her son have an ultrasound; they discovered an acorn-sized tumour in his abdomen. They were relieved to learn the tumour was benign, and it was surgically removed. Jill thought their nightmare was over but she was advised that her son had a rare form of cancer — there are only a handful of reported cases around the world.

Archer received a new cancer treatment that saved his life. In Jill’s words, the medicine behaved like “millions of customs agents” that allowed healthy cells through and intercepted and eliminated cancer cells. As Archer’s treatment ended, his life was interrupted again when he broke his leg and was confined to a full-leg cast for 12 weeks. When the pandemic hit, Archer’s feelings of isolation were shared by the world, and he found himself — once again — identifying with the lonely lizards he was fascinated with and encountered at the zoo or pet stores.

Thrilled to learn he could wish for his very own lizard — who he named Spike — Archer became hopeful and the prospect of caring and loving a pet brightened his days. It’s even possible that Spike is the world’s most loved reptile! “Spike is the beginning and closure to everything our family went through”, Jill said. “The wish has not only made Archer incredibly happy to have his own lizard, but he calls himself a dad now, and it just warms our hearts so much.”

Archer’s new pet lizard, Spike. Photo courtesy Make A Wish Foundation.

Hope is essential for children with critical illnesses, and its life-changing power is unlocked when wishes like Archer’s are granted. Together we can continue to transform lives, one wish at a time.