Strong is one word to describe Hannah Bystrom, an energetic nine-year-old who has spent a significant portion of her life in and out of hospitals due to several health complications.
Hannah lives with multiple chronic illnesses and relies on a gastronomy tube to receive nutrition. But, her positive outlook is an inspiration for all.
During her stay at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia late last month, the South Jersey resident hung up a sign outside her window with her life motto 'HANNAH STRONG.'
And only two days later, she woke up to a surprising yet inspiring message outside a neighboring building.
In response to Hannah’s sign, the nurses across the street at Penn Medicine's Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine (PCAM) covered a window with the words, ‘You are very strong Hannah,’ signifying their hope.
“I was so excited and shocked when I saw the sign that I couldn’t believe it,” Hannah said. “It made me really happy,” she continued.
Hannah first decided to hang up her motto after seeing a sign at PCAM that read, ‘Stay Philly Strong!!’ She spent the next day with her entire family preparing her very own sign.
“We first outlined the letters with sharpie but that didn’t work, so then we used to crayons,” she explained.
When the nurses across the street spotted Hannah’s banner, they immediately wanted to reply. "We were so touched that she saw our sign, and she is just such an inspiration for our patients here as well,” Paige Madison, a PCAM nurse said.
Hannah returned to CHOP last week and is now back home. Her mom was arranging a meeting with the PCAM nurses across the street to thank them for their kind message.
“I want to tell them thank you and that I’m really excited to meet them,” she said.
And despite the hardships Hannah has overcome in the past, she is eager for what the future holds. By next year, she’s even hoping to join her local competitive dance team.
“I just want to say that even though you’re different or something, you can still do anything else that anyone else can do."