Ashli Brehm was getting chemotherapy treatments at Nebraska Medicine several years ago when she noticed a poised young girl in the room who was also getting cancer treatments. The two chatted briefly.
“I was so taken with her because she’s sort of an old soul,” said Brehm, 36, a mother of three. “She’s this lovely young girl.”
Brehm was thrilled months later when they both finished their treatments. But earlier this year, Brehm heard that the girl, Daisy Anguiano Miranda, was back in treatment. Daisy’s Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that mostly affects children, had returned.
Brehm reached out to the hospital and said she wanted to do something for Daisy, even though she barely knew her. The hospital staff mentioned Daisy’s 11th birthday was coming up.
Brehm, a life blogger, put the word out to her social media followers last month to please send flowers, in particular paper flowers, for Daisy. Brehm remembers the impact when she was receiving chemo treatments for her breast cancer and a child sent her a paper flower.
“When I got my paper flower, it was one of the things that lasted,” Brehm said. “I held on to it.”
In the appeal to her followers, Brehm also mentioned that Daisy likes art supplies. Soon, boxes and envelopes started arriving at Brehm’s house in Omaha. They came for about a month, arriving from all over the country — Pennsylvania, Alaska, Kansas and Iowa.
“I got over a hundred packages at my house. We’d sometimes get two, three, four a day,” Brehm said.
They were filled with markers, pens, sketch pads, stocking caps, purses, hair bows, a necklace, a handmade quilt — and about 500 paper flowers.
Brehm gathered the supplies and, after coordinating with the hospital, set them out April 9 across a waiting area in the hospital on a day she knew Daisy was coming in to get some tests. Daisy’s birthday was three days earlier.
“I was hoping it didn’t freak her out,” Brehm said. “I had met her but I didn’t spend enough time with her for her to remember me.”
After decorating the waiting area with the flowers and gifts, Brehm anxiously waited for Daisy to arrive. When Daisy walked up with her mother, Brehm and others sang “Happy Birthday to You.”
Daily looked around in disbelief that all the gifts were for her.
“I was happy,” Daisy said in a phone interview last week. “I did feel like a humongous celebrity.”
Daisy, who is in the fifth grade, had a few friends over days before for her birthday. They ate pizza, watched the movie “Jumanji” and played around with makeup. But seeing all the gifts and care from around the country made her birthday seem like magic.
“When I saw everything, when I saw each design on each flower was unique, I couldn’t even think in that moment,” Daisy said last week. “Seeing all the beautiful flowers, I felt special.”
There were so many gifts and flowers, in fact, Daisy started walking around the room giving away flowers to other patients and their families.
“I thought maybe it would be a good idea. I got a ton of flowers,” she said. “All these flowers won’t fit in my house. I had a feeling the flowers could make other people happy.”
Brehm said when she put out the request for “Daisies for Daisy” through her blog and social media, she was confident people would respond.
“The reality is people want to do good things,” Brehm said. “They want to be helpful and they want to give goodness. They just don’t always know how or what to do.”
So she gave them a little guidance.
“I think ever since I was sick, birthdays are even more important because you never know if you’ll have another one,” she said.