|Vicky Daniels, R.N., (in blue at center), is surrounded by some of her co-workers at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital who decorated squares for a quilt they gave her as a symbol of their support during her breast cancer treatment. The quilt is pictured separately.|
“Keep smilin’, keep shinin’
Knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for…”
PINEHURST – Sanford resident Vicky Daniels, a veteran nurse on the post-partum nursing unit at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, can identify with these words from a tune of the early ’80s.
Since her September 2012 breast cancer diagnosis, Daniels has been supported through good times and bad by a lot of very good friends, some she didn’t even know all that well before.
“They’re always looking after me, that’s for sure, keeping my spirits up,” she says.
In one display of spirit-lifting, some of Daniels’ co-workers surprised her with a pink-and-white quilt featuring 40-plus squares, each bearing a message designed to support her during the difficult days of her cancer treatment. The quilt presentation also included a poem that some members of the group had written for her.
Each square in the quilt is special to Daniels. While she hesitates to mention any one in particular, two come quickly to mind.
One square was made by patient services representative Jancie Drossart, who has known Daniels since their early days on the old 2B unit. For some long-forgotten reason, they started calling each other “Crazy Rabbit” so, when Drossart did a quilt square, she put “Rabbit” on one side and “Hope” on the other.
Another square, this one done by R.N. Avis Pilewski, shows a sketch of cape-dressed Daniels with her signature uncut hair – now gone due to the chemotherapy. It is tagged “Super Vicky.”
Daniels tears up when she talks about it.
“Forever, I’ll have that one with my hair,” she says.
There have been many instances of these friend-to-friend kindnesses. Despite the side effects of her treatment, Daniels has missed very little work, but that hasn’t stopped her friends from donating Paid Time Off (PTO) to her. During a recent Habitat for Humanity build, several co-workers worked a regular hospital shift, punched out and then spent time volunteering at a Habitat site.
For every two hours they worked, they earned one PTO hour and donated the time to Daniels.
Not surprisingly, in an organization known for “caring for people,” the compassion has extended beyond Daniels’ Women & Children’s Services co-workers. Words of encouragement and support come frequently from people in other departments, and a supervising nurse – a breast cancer survivor herself – sometimes offers advice about dealing with chemotherapy.
At the same time, Daniels’ “No doom, no gloom” motto has somehow gotten around, so when it’s obvious she’s having a less-than-great day, she gets hugs and smiles without comment.
“It’s like everyone has heard, ‘This is what Vicky wants,’” she says. “We’re here to work. Let’s move on ... They know how to be a good friend to me.”