Army Veteran Rachel VanDeMark recently got a colorful and special surprise when she arrived for her appointment at the Humble VA Outpatient Clinic. VanDeMark, who is undergoing cancer treatment at the Houston VA, was coming in for a routine clinic appointment when she was greeted by Adrienne Carraway, her licensed vocational nurse, wearing a purple wig.

She nearly burst into tears when she saw the brightly-colored wig.

“I shaved my head in preparation of chemo and at a previous appointment, I shared with Adrienne how I attempted to wear my favorite wig that day. But after staring at myself in the mirror for a while, I didn’t have the courage to go out in a colored wig,” VanDeMark said. “I never expected her to go out and buy a purple wig to wear in solidarity.  I was so touched by her warm and caring heart that I cried on my way home from the clinic.”

“She is an amazing lady.”

According to Carraway, during routine blood draws over the past month, the two women bonded over their mutual love of the color purple. “Ms. VanDeMark is an amazing lady and I look forward to seeing her every week,” she said. “I wanted to let her know she is not on this journey alone so I found a purple wig online and wore it to lift her spirits. She looks beautiful in her purple wig and it was wonderful to see her smile.”

VanDeMark served 22 years in the Army and Army National Guard. She deployed twice to Kosovo and once to Iraq before retiring and moving to Spring, Texas. She said she is using many skills she gained during her military service to battle cancer with determination and resilience. She drives to the Houston VA weekly for treatment and will be ramping up her chemotherapy in the coming weeks.

Purple was late sister’s favorite color

“My favorite color used to be Army green, but when my younger sister Marcy died in a car accident, I adopted her favorite color, purple, as my own,” she said. “Purple holds a special place in my heart and hearing that it is a color used to bring awareness to several kinds of cancer makes it even more special.”

Carraway agreed. “I told Ms. VanDeMark we are ‘Purple Sisters’ now and I’m with her all the way as she fights for remission. It is truly my honor and privilege to care for her and, I am in awe of her strength and her spirit.”

By Maureen Dyman is communications director at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

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Published on Jun. 6, 2022

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3 Comments

  1. Wayne quick June 23, 2022 at 7:55 am

    Good one

  2. Wayne quick June 23, 2022 at 7:53 am

    Exploring new app

  3. john s kay June 22, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    I applaud the new sign-in option. You are probably already considering more system broadcasts and adding a step-by-step guide. How to get the app, method of a scan of the barcode, and emphasize that the cell phone number is the key to verification. I’m 81-yrs. And might be familiar with this first iteration of the new appointment verification. Just be more specific next issue.

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