Leukemia survivor makes wish, meets YouTubers Daniel Howell and AmazingPhil

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By Emma Galef and Julia Harris, Staff Reporters

A week before school started this year, sophomore Rachael Pei’s wish came true. She flew to London to spend a day with her YouTube idols, Dan Howell and AmazingPhil. They spent the day playing with the dogs and cats at the Battersea Dog and Cats Home. Pei, thrilled to have met the YouTubers, was thankful for more than just that day. 

The summer before sixth grade, Pei was diagnosed with cancer. Her first question? 

“When can I go back to school?”

Pei spent much of the following year in treatment and recovery, and she had to put some of the activities she enjoyed, such as tennis and swimming, on hold. 

Pei was one of 200,000 people in the United States diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015. Fortunately, this type of cancer is usually curable within two years. During the recovery process, Pei spent her days in the hospital watching encouraging clips from her family and funny videos from her favorite YouTubers, Daniel Howell and Phil Lester. The two YouTubers post comical, entertaining videos on their respective channels, Daniel Howell and AmazingPhil. 

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation, a nonprofit organization fulfilling wishes for children with critical illnesses, Pei got to celebrate the end of her treatment by meeting Howell and Lester, who had unknowingly supported her along the way.

“The whole time, I couldn’t really believe it,” Pei said. “It was like a shock factor.”  

On Aug. 19, Pei flew to London with her family where the YouTubers live. She stayed in London for four days, spending one with the YouTubers and the other three touring the city. At first, Pei felt nervous about interacting with Dan and Phil, whom she had watched on-screen for years, but she said that they were nice and accepting, so it was easy to make conversation with them. 

As soon as she returned to the hotel, Pei posted a photo of herself with the YouTubers on Instagram. Now, the picture has almost 20,000 likes.

“I’m really glad that everyone was so nice about it, because in the comments of my post, everyone was really sweet and encouraging,” Pei said.  

Pei also had some positive advice to share with anyone going through a diagnosis like hers. 

“I would tell others to have hope most of all, because sometimes it may seem like the end of the world,” Pei said. She added that there will always be bright things in life, and that there is a kind community of people in the hospital that understand what you’re going through.  

After everything she went through, Pei says that she is now a happier and more motivated person. 

“Honestly, I think it made me a better person,” Pei said, “because before, I wasn’t really motivated to do anything, but afterwards, it made me more happy with life.”