Unique Room Design Lifts Adriana’s spirits

Wisconsin teen Adriana (Addie) was an active athlete before being diagnosed with Acute B Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia in September of 2018. She was an avid bowler, baseball player, and on the swim team. She also liked to read, write, and draw. However, her intensifying treatments have since taken away her ability to participate in these activities, and the many struggles she has faced since her diagnosis have been disheartening and left her feeling depressed.

Addie did not reach remission when expected, leaving her at high risk for relapse. She’s endured many inpatient stays due to infections, nasal surgery, and allergies to chemo. Her steroid treatment induced temporary diabetes, and chemo caused her to have seizures and led to brain toxicity in 2019, from which she developed severe tremors, difficulty balancing, and cognitive impairments. Her mom recalled that during the toxicity she reverted from being a teen to what felt like infancy, then back to a teenager all in the span of a few months, and prompted speech, occupational, and physical therapy to be added to her road to recovery. In January of last year she started even harsher treatments in hopes of warding off her cancer from coming back. 

Our team had met Addie before the pandemic started, and since she had waited a year and a half for her room transformation, especially considering all the challenges she had faced, we were thrilled to finally get the process underway to create a source of hope and joy for her. Addie’s nickname is squirrel because they are her favorite animal, and because she is small and feisty. Her favorite colors are red and black, and focusing around these interests resulted in one of our most unique bedrooms yet! 

The bedroom design inspiration stemmed from a beautiful and colorful tapestry that Addie’s bowling coach had made for her of a squirrel holding a bowling ball. Our Director of Design, Mardel, said she wanted to make this special piece a focal point, and planned much of the room around this tapestry, including a fun patterned bedspread with colors that harmonized well with it. The wall that the bed is on was painted black as an accent wall and we added red window treatments. The new bed maximizes on space efficiency as it includes drawers underneath and a desk that pulls out, which we covered in art supplies. On shelves next to the bed Mardel included a new jewelry box with earrings, bracelets, and necklaces to wear since Addie likes jewelry, as well as her favorite books, and pictures. 


The most unique part of this room though was a small rectangular cabinet above the closet which was repurposed into a squirrel nook. We replaced the sliding cabinet doors with a window, lined the space with color changing lights, created a forest habitat with tree branches, and added her “Super Squirrel” sign as well as her collection of stuffed animal squirrels. The idea paid off, as this ended up being Addie’s favorite part of her new room! 

When she first opened the door to her new room, Addie put her hands to her mouth in shock and her mom described her as extremely happy, excited, and fighting back tears. Her mom told us that the new bedroom was beyond their expectations, had given Addie something to look forward to, and that something so thoughtful, special, and just for her really meant a lot. She added that “it’s nice to see Addie smile.”

by Kelly O'Donnell

Executive Director

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