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Oncology work brings joy, pain

September 03, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

Some days of working with dying cancer patients can be heart-breaking for oncology nurse Gail Stoner. Others can be joyous as she watches some recover.

"They go through so much and it makes you realize what is important. When you come home and see some silly thing, you don't worry about it when you think about what is important," Stoner said.

Stoner was named Maryland Worker of the Year in the American Worker of the Year Awards presented by Dickies Workwear. She was nominated by her husband, Gregory Stoner, after he read about the contest in Parade magazine.

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"She is a true Florence Nightingale and a beautiful angel to her patients, young and old," Gregory wrote in his nomination essay. "Although it is an extremely stressful and depressing position, she has not missed a day of work in 12 years she has worked in her present position. She loves her patients and they love her as she is their nurse, their friend and comforter 'til the end."

Stoner said the award could easily have been won by any of the other nurses at the internal medicine office she works in at the Robinwood Medical Center.

"All the staff in there really deserve it," Stoner said.

"I love my patients. They're nice to me, too. They bring me tomatoes. I don't know if it's just nice people who get cancer, but they can be so nice," Stoner said.

She said she finds the work rewarding, particularly with so many people being cured of cancer now.

Stoner said she wanted to be a nurse "from the time I was a little girl."

"I just always wanted to help people," she said.

She got a bachelor's degree in nursing from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.

Stoner will receive $250 in cash, a $200 gift certificate and a jacket for winning the title.

This is the sixth year that the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. has presented the American Worker of the Year awards.

"Reading all the entries each year reaffirms what we've always believed about American workers," said Jon Ragsdale, marketing director for the 75-year-old workwear company. "Sometimes we think we have the toughest job of all - picking just one person from each state."

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