The atmosphere inside room 304 at Edgemont Healthcare is calm but grim. Lina Dailey, 101, sleeps curled up in blankets, under a large window. There are no visitors. Sharon Adams walks into the room and shakes her gently. Lina turns with a look of confusion, one that quickly turns to a smile.
Lina is one of several patients Sharon, 57, sees daily in her job as a traveling hospice nurse. She has worked as a nurse’s aide for Bluegrass Care Navigators for a year. She drives 40-50 miles a day on highways and one-lane roads in mostly rural areas, visiting patients with varying degrees of disability. She is also a three-time cancer survivor and a caretaker for her parents.
On this day, like most others, Sharon greets Lina by holding her hand. She crouches next to the bed. They stare at each other for a while. Sharon wonders what’s on Lina's mind.
Sharon enjoys her time with Lina spent singing hymns, reading scripture, reminiscing about Lina's life and sharing their love of looking after other people.
They share a special bond. Both wanted to be nurses when they were young, but life got in the way.
Born in 1917, Lina wanted to go to school, but being from a family of tobacco farmers with little money and 10 children, it wasn’t an option. She had to work the farm and take care of her family.
Sharon decided she wanted to be a nurse after caring for her grandmother while she was in high school. After being accepted to college, she married and had a child so life took another direction for her. Over the years, she battled other challenges.
At age 32 Sharon's fiancé died suddenly. A decade later, Sharon was diagnosed with cancer; two more battles with the disease would follow. She is cancer-free now.
“Another thing Mrs. Dailey and I have in common is that she always wanted to be a nurse but didn’t have the opportunity because she was taking care of her family,” Sharon says.
Lina did become a nurse’s aide in the 1970s, after her husband died. She worked two decades on the nightshift in the emergency room and at nursing homes.
For 40 years Sharon held a variety of medical-related jobs, including the nightshift in an ER, an EMT with an ambulance service and working in a doctor's office.
At 51 she became a Certified Nursing Assistant as preparation for nursing school, but once again life got in the way. She took a job with Bluegrass Care Navigators as a CNA and says she has finally found her calling.
Sharon sees a lot of herself in Lina. She respects her faith in Christ and putting her career on hold to care for her family.
“I think we are alike a lot as far as morals and our way of thinking."
Sharon doesn't tell her patients about her experience with cancer.
"It’s about them, not about me. But I think at the same time it gives me the ability to understand that fear of death."