Through an act of generosity, Gisselle Hernandez, 14, has managed to bring cheer and hope to cancer patients at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
An eighth-grader at High Tech Middle in Chula Vista, Hernandez presented nurse Donna Thompson with a check for $370 and a heaping helping of love to go all around.
So enamored was the young girl with how Thompson had treated her grandmother, Leocadia, that she wanted to do something.
“I just wanted to help out,” said Hernandez, who has been a Miss San Diego Princess.
She managed to get 50 friends to help her out at a car wash that she organized next to Rally’s Hamburgers in Chula Vista.
“I didn’t charge a fee. I just asked for donations,” she said. “The largest donation from someone was forty dollars.”
Thompson smiled. “It’s amazing that one person can have that much influence,” she said about Hernandez.
“Gisselle left it up to me to see fit where and how the money is used,” Thompson said.
More than likely some of the money Gisselle donated will go to buy some of the fabric to make recovery comfort pillows.
“Yes, that pillow started the whole thing with Gisselle,” said her mother, Adriana Hernandez. “Her grandmother absolutely loves that pillow.”
Another possibility for use of Gisselle’s donated money is a knitted or crocheted hat, also made by hospital volunteers.
“For Leocadia, losing her hair was the hardest thing about the whole cancer treatment process,” said Thompson, who had been designated Hernandez’ breast health navigator once the cancer diagnosis was made.
“So I got her hooked up with the free head coverings,” Thompson said.
Leocadia prefers wearing one of the knit hats.
“It’s nice and warm for her head, especially in the winter,” Adriana said.
“Grandma has made so many friends here,” Gisselle said. “She likes it here. The doctors are very understanding and patient with her.”
The headwear is a reminder to Leocadia of Thompson’s kindness.
“Donna is mi angel,” she said, smiling.
“And I’m very proud of Gisselle. She’s always told me that I’ll be OK. When my own granddaughter tells me this, it encourages me.”
When she does recover from her cancer treatments, Leocadia intends to spend more time with her granddaughter.
“We are a united family,” she said.
Gisselle said she actually wanted to start a foundation for cancer patients. “I got the idea from Miss San Diego County 2011. She told me her story of how she started a foundation and that motivated me.”
However, because of the amount of work and money involved in setting up a foundation, Gisselle may have to put those plans on hold.
In the meantime, Gisselle, who is eligible to compete next year for Miss Outstanding Teen, has learned something invaluable. “To enjoy life.”