CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For Adam York, the sign on his hospital room door that read “LAST DAY of chemo!” said it all.
The patient, whose leg was amputated, rang the bell at Atrium Health’s Carolina Medicals Center in uptown last week.
“Fingers crossed, hope the cancer’s gone, hope everything’s okay,” he said.
But just before York went home, the Daisy Brigade paid him a visit with a handwritten message, a painted rock, and, of course, a daisy.
“The rock is awesome. I can’t wait to show this to my family,” said York.
“The Daisy Brigade started about four years ago,” said nursing staff assistant Ellie Kunath. “I actually got the idea from the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia that did something similar.”
In Philly, folks could write a message to a child in the hospital that would be delivered right to their door along with a daisy. However, Kunath wanted the grownups to feel the love, too.
“A lot of times, people do things for the children, but the adults don’t have special stuff like that. But in reality, they love it just as much,” she said.
The process is very simple. Just go to the Daisy Brigade’s Facebook page and click on the link under “Our Story”. Then answer three questions: What’s your name? Where are you from? What’s your message?
Although plenty of kind messages come from the Carolinas, the digital reach of the Daisy Brigade is worldwide.
“We’ve gotten some (messages) from China, Germany, Thailand, a lot from Canada,” said Kunath. “I think we counted one time; it was over 40 countries. “I have no idea where they find it. I guess that’s the power of social media.”
On the day NBC Charlotte visited, we saw three cancer patients get daisies, painted rocks, and cards that read:
- “May your heart be brave, your mind be fierce, and your spirit free,” wrote Trish from Rock Hill, South Carolina
- “Always remember that God has a plan for you and He is with you through all you face. Sending love and hugs,” wrote Jordan from Pittsburg, Kansas
- “A termite walks into a bar and says, ‘Is the bar tender here?’ While the joke may be corny, I hope it brought a smile to your face. Love and prayers to you,” wrote a person in Harrisonburg, Virginia
The corny joke was perfect for York, who’s a bit of a wisecracker himself.
“What do you do for a living?” asked NBC Charlotte.
“Right now, I sleep late,” he said.
“Are you getting used to your prosthetic leg?” NBC Charlotte asked.
“I can wander around, but I’m not winning any kickball games,” he said.
“Jokes go over better than anything else,” Kunath said. “A little bit of laughter just changes everything for a patient.”
People also write inspirational quotes and bible verses. Many times, it’s not so much the message as it is the messenger.
“I’ve gotten a lot of messages from old patients that want to send some encouragement on to the next one dealing with being in the hospital and having to go through all of the treatments. Because they get it. They know what it’s like,” said Kunath.
Though the Daisy Brigade started out with real daisies, they’ve turned to fake flowers the last few years because many patients can’t have real ones in their rooms. That’s why Kunath reached out to Steele Creek Rocks of Kindness for additional support.
“(They) started painting rocks with daisies on them, so we could give those to our patients, too,” Kunath said.
Some of the rocks have messages like:
- You are strong
- One day at a time
- Stay strong
- You are an overcomer
“It’s good to see that people care because you can get so distant and isolated just being in a hospital room for a long period of time,” said York. “To have people show up and just be there.”
Kunath said there’s been a lull in messages over the past year, so she hopes people will go online and take a few minutes to spread some cheer.
“A lot of times people don’t know what to say. But it’s these little messages that brighten up our patients’ day, and it means so much to them,” she said.
The Daisy Brigade makes deliveries every Thursday in May. In December, the group also makes the rounds with the Candy Cane Brigade.
“We collect messages all year long because we use the messages for both the daisies and the candy canes,” said Kunath.
“Keep sending them in because we use them,” she added. “It makes a huge difference in their day. You can see it.”