Ill girl who loves mail gets thousands of cards and gifts from strangers
An unwell 10-year-old who loves seeing her name on letters has received thousands of birthday cards and presents from well-wishers around the world.
Abbie Paice, who was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was two, was finally given the all-clear earlier this year, only to fall ill again a few months later as a result of the after-effects of her chemotherapy.
After her mother wrote on Facebook about how excited Abbie had been to receive a letter with her name on the envelope, friends shared the post and encouraged people to send cards for her 10th birthday, which was on Friday.
In the end, so many people sent cards and presents that the Post Office started to hold them back and sent round a van with a special delivery on her birthday.
“It really has cheered her up,” her mother Lisah-Jayne Paice, 37, told the PA news agency. “She just got so, so excited by it.
“Just the thought of other people willing her to get well has given her a bit of a boost.”
It has been a tough couple of months for Abbie, who has been hit by delayed after-effects of three years of chemotherapy she received between 2012 and 2015.
“About eight weeks ago she had a really bad nosebleed and that triggered a series of events that’s led us to where we are today, which is Abbie’s very poorly,” Mrs Paice, from Chartham in Kent, explained.
“She’s got excess pressure in her head due to excess spinal fluid which is caused by one of the chemos she had when she was little, which has meant severe headaches, severe nausea, extreme fatigue, problems with her sight because it’s pushed on the back of her eyes.”
Abbie has found the situation difficult, with repeated hospital visits for tests and treatment – including a lumbar puncture – meaning she has missed a lot of school and been unable to see friends.
As well as the deluge of mail, Abbie also received a socially distanced visit from teachers and classmates, who drove by her house on Saturday to mark her birthday.
Mrs Paice said her daughter – who she described as “a fundraiser” who is “more comfortable supplying other people than accepting gifts herself” – was initially a little overwhelmed by the attention.
“She struggled to understand why other people cared that she was unwell,” Mrs Paice said.
But she was also “so, so excited” and her parents have noticed what a positive effect the gestures have had on her.
“Just the thought of other people willing her to get well has given her a bit of a boost,” Mrs Paice said.
“We were a bit concerned, we were discussing with doctors that being in hospital so much and having the lumbar punctures again… for such a chatty girl, she was starting to become a little bit too reserved.
“She actually seemed quite down.
“But since we had this delivery it seems to have really turned her mood around.”
The outpouring of support has also led to “mixed emotions” for Mrs Paice, who admitted she “almost (feels) a little bit bad” because “there’s always someone else worse off”.
But she said: “I honestly can’t believe how much other people across the world care that she’s feeling unwell, and the messages that are in the cards are so heart-warming.
“I’ve been speaking to a couple of different people who I’ve never met who have shared their story with me and it’s so touching that people have taken the time to really understand that she’s suffering at the moment.
“It’s tough times for everyone, so the fact that she’s getting presents through, I really can’t believe it.”
The family is turning down any offers of financial support, and instead encouraging people to donate to a fundraiser set up by friends which will help the work of play specialists at their local hospital, the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
To contribute, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/hayley-lawler