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Vancouver cancer patient’s wish thwarted due to Trump’s travel ban

The teenager wanted to visit UN headquarters in New York City to help her create her own non-profit to help underprivileged children.

North Vancouver resident Diba Sanatgar is battling bone cancer and asked Children's Wish Foundation to help her visit the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

David P. Ball / Metro Order this photo

North Vancouver resident Diba Sanatgar is battling bone cancer and asked Children's Wish Foundation to help her visit the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

After North Vancouver resident Diba Sanatgar, 17, was diagnosed with bone cancer two years ago, she asked Children’s Wish Foundation to help her visit the United Nations headquarters in New York City as part of her dream to start a non-profit to help underprivileged children.

The foundation granted her wish but then came the bad news – President Donald Trump’s travel ban would prevent Sanatgar, a Canadian permanent resident, from entering the United States.

“I was really frustrated,” she told Metro.  

Her plan had been to meet UNICEF officials in New York and gain inspiration from their work.

“It was ridiculous. I really had this dream of helping other people and I was really looking forward to it. I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and not being able to go was not fun at all,” she said.

Trump has banned people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, where Sanatgar was born, from entering the United States.

Her wish coordinator told her it would be too risky to try and enter anyway.

“They don’t really want to take any risk with people’s wishes – there would be a risk that I would be detained,” said Sanatgar.

A Children’s Wish Foundation spokesperson confirmed the charity has had to deny several other children’s wishes due to the travel ban, but could not say exactly how many.

The Children’s Wish Foundation is a charity whose mandate is to grant Canadian children with life-threatening illnesses a wish.

Sanatgar revised her wish from New York to a beach vacation in Fiji, but that request was thwarted by the travel ban as well. All flights had a layover in the U.S. before going on to Fiji, she explained.

“It was very, very frustrating.”

Children’s Wish Foundation is now working with Sanatgar to send her to a vacation in Greece.

But Sanatgar is not giving up on her initial dream. She says she will continue to work toward creating a foundation that will help children less fortunate than her. Her own experience with chemotherapy and major leg surgery motivated her to help others.

“It was hard for me in the beginning but I got used to it. Of course I miss things. I miss school, I miss spending time with my friends.”

But some children aren’t even able to access the medical treatment they need, she said.

“Not all kids have access to free health care like I do, here.”

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