The Sisterhood of the Travelling T-Shirt

The Sisterhood of the Travelling T-Shirt

The pain of arthritis inspires creative generosity

Positive and uplifting stories are sometimes hard to come by in the news.
“Good news isn’t news,” they say.

Let’s agree to disagree.

Here’s a story that crosses borders and unites perfect strangers through generosity and selflessness.

This spring, Susan Strader, a 72-year-old retired nurse living in Nanoose Bay, B.C., started crafting handmade masks to help fellow residents stay safe during the pandemic. She would take online orders via social media and safely deliver them in the parking lot of a local coffee shop.

Enter Sara Goff, 42, meeting up with Susan to collect the masks she had ordered from her. Sara happened to be wearing one of the Arthritis Society’s bright, yellow “Arthritis Won’t Stop Me” t-shirts and it immediately caught Susan’s eye.

“I have a friend who’d love that shirt, I need it,” Susan jokingly told her newly met customer. The friend she was referring to is Bernadine Rogers, 49, living in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Bernardine and Susan had worked together in the eastern Arctic and their friendship grew over the years. They kept contact after Susan moved back to B.C. five years ago. Recently, Bernadine had taken to social media to share her struggles with rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating autoimmune disease.

Without missing a beat, Sara went back to her car, changed shirts, and kindly offered the piece of clothing for Susan’s friend to have.

“I got the shirt while volunteering for Arthritis Society’s 2019 Walk for Arthritis in Parksville. I was supporting my mother who suffers from osteoarthritis and is always involved in the community. She was part of the committee organizing that Walk,” Sara says.

Bernadine was deeply moved by the gesture.

“When Susan told me the story, I started crying. I never encountered anybody who’d do that for a perfect stranger. The message is in the act; there’s so much goodness out there.”

Bernadine, who works for the Nunavut Department of Health, has been struggling to find the right medication to adequately control her symptoms. She’s been suffering for the better part of the past five years.

“It can be hard to stay positive sometimes; Sara’s act of kindness really helped,” she says.

Susan recently donated the profits from her mask sales to the Arthritis Society, in Sara’s name, in honour of her kindness.

It was Sara’s turn to be moved.

“I’m just glad this little gesture made someone’s day; made someone feel better.”

It sure did.