Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Note from Kerstin - Today’s guest blogger is my amazing sister Sarah. Her story is a moving example of the mission of Vivid Cottage to spread joy. Take it away, Sarah!
by Sarah Warner Lister
In 2016 my life was turned upside down when I was quite unexpectedly diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia and admitted to a cancer unit for 127 days. There were some pretty strict protocols in place to protect vulnerable immunocompromised patients like me. I could have no more than 2 visitors at a time and they had to be over the age of 18 (meaning my 3 and 8 year old boys were not allowed to visit me which still brings tears to my eyes as I type this.)
It was a pretty cold and sterile environment (which is a good thing for killing off cancer cells but lousy for relaxing.) I was also not allowed to have any live plants or flowers in my room which are the typical go-to "get-well” gestures offered to someone staying in a hospital.
But people could send cards. And they did. Literally, hundreds of them. (Honestly, I am still a bit overwhelmed when I think of all the gorgeous cards that were mailed to me and my family that year.)
After a restless night spent on the cool tile of my hospital bathroom floor, I would cherish each time that my mother would visit me with a new handful of cards to open. This ritual became an essential part of my healing process as each image and message delivered hope, strength, encouragement and most importantly love.
I loved opening those hand-written cards from friends, family, co-workers and even a few strangers who had heard about our situation. Each card contained a sincere, heartfelt get-well message which was the next best thing to receiving a big hug (which was another thing I was not allowed to have.)
My sister brought a roll of Scotch tape to my hospital room and within a half an hour the cold white walls were completely covered with cards offering colorful, warm images that delighted me from every angle.
This collection of greeting cards delivered positivity and light through some of my darkest days. Just knowing that I had people near and far cheering me on helped motivate me to get through some incredibly unpleasant medical procedures.
When it was determined that my Leukemia would not be able to stay in remission, I was allowed to come home for a week prior to having a bone marrow transplant. My sister carefully unpacked my hospital room walls and placed all of the cards in a plastic box. A day before I had to return to the hospital we staged a little “photo shoot” where we spread out all of the cards on my living room floor. I sat right down in the center of them literally surrounding me and filling me up with the love, light, and laughter necessary to prepare me for my transplant.
Six years later I continue to hold dear all of the support that was shown to me and my family during that awful time. I remain filled with gratitude for each new day. I also learned first hand that a seemingly small gesture like mailing a card can deliver a powerful dose of comfort to someone going through a tough time.
Sometimes it is totally fine to “think small.”