EIGHINGER: Nurse at QMG learns that's what friends are for - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

EIGHINGER: Nurse at QMG learns that's what friends are for

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This is the kind of story that often gets lost behind the scenes, all too often slipping through the cracks of what we call day-to-day life.

It's a feel-good example of how friends help friends, and something that is done without the thought of grabbing a headline atop the front page or being the lead item on the nightly news.

It's done because, well, it's just something friends do.

Diane Gash is a registered nurse in the orthopedics department at Quincy Medical group. Gash is going through cancer treatment, which, of course, is a private matter -- yet public at the same time because there often are side effects to treatment, such as hair loss and illness.

The group of people Gash works closest with understand her trials. Not so much because they all are in one medical field or another, but because she is a friend, and friends simply know those things. So do husbands, like Gash's husband, Mike.

So what recently happened involving the "team" Gash is a part of might appear to be a monumental gesture to those on the outside. For those who were involved, it was not a big deal. To them, it was just another way to say, "Hang in there. We're with you."

This particular bond of friendship was built around the Color Run late last month. Most of the orthopedics team was planning to take part.

"We were talking about the Color Run in the office one day, and I said that I would love to participate with them, but I couldn't wear my wig," Gash said.

She was afraid the wig might be destroyed, and those things are expensive.

That's when Shannon Donley, a surgical tech, brought up the idea of everyone getting one of those crazy-looking rainbow wigs, which are relatively cheap. Donley said they all would wear one so Gash would not have to stand out.

"I was touched by this, because I would have been embarrassed to wear one by myself," Gash said. "I really don't like to stand out or draw attention to myself."

What Gash did not realize was that her friends had more planned than simply buying some cheap wig to support her.

Donley, fellow surgical tech Aaron Donald, orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Crickard and Mike Gash all shaved their heads, simply to let her know they are with her all the way.

They kept their shaved heads from her until during the race when they stopped, because Gash's stamina is not what it once was.

"We stopped at George's house because I was tired and didn't think I could go the whole way," Gash said.

That is when the others took off their rainbow wigs and revealed what they done. The most surprising may have been Gash's husband, who left their home that morning with a full head of hair. The others shaved his head before the race.

"We referred to it all as ‘Operation Bald Eagle,' " Crickard said.

Though none of her friends would completely admit it had been their idea to show this kind of support, most fingers pointed to Donald.

"As a group, we came together," he said.

Surprisingly, those who shaved their heads admitted to liking the close-cropped look.

"I had no idea that they would sacrifice their hair for me, too," Gash said. "I was so shocked and, of course, touched that they would do that for me."

That's what friends are for.

-- seighinger@whig.com/221-3377

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