Published on March 25, 2019

Teen Helps Support Cancer Patients

Katie Moss donates flowers to Danny Talbott Cancer Center

Alvin Gardner, left, shares a conversation with high school student Katie Moss at the Danny Talbott Cancer Center at Nash UNC Health Care. Katie takes flower arrangements to the Cancer Center every Monday.

Rocky Mount Telegram
By Amelia Harper, Staff Writer

Almost every Monday morning for nearly a year, Katie Moss has stopped by the Danny Talbott Cancer Center to deliver three fresh flower arrangements to brighten up the spaces used by patients dealing with cancer.

Moss, a senior at Rocky Mount High School, lost her grandfather to cancer and remembers the weekly trips he made to a cancer center before the Danny Talbott Cancer Center opened on the campus of Nash UNC Health Care in January 2018.

Her weekly vigil is her answer to a call to bring a “beacon of hope and positivity to others in the community who also suffered the unbearable effects of cancer,” Moss said.

“The flowers have the simple beauty to distract from the reality of cancer, yet simultaneously remind those patients and families of the support our community offers,” Moss said when she wrote about the experience in an essay that helped her win a position as a semi-finalist for the Parks Scholarship.

Moss is heading to UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall where she plans to pursue a career in a health-care field. She is looking for someone to continue her mission of support to cancer patients once she is gone.

“The welcoming arrangements serve to bring light to a journey that for some could be dark and frightening. They are a gentle reminder to the patients and caregivers that in the midst of battling cancer, there is hope and support,” Moss said.

Moss is not the only one to offer support to patients at the cancer center since it opened a little over a year ago. Several churches, civic organizations, and individuals have embraced the opportunity to share rays of hope with patients who come to the cancer center for treatment.

Just last week, the Professional Women’s Organization donated $10,000 to the UNC Cancer Care Patient Assistance Program, established by the Nash UNC Health Care Foundation in 2015. The organization raised this money by selling discount coupon cards, featuring twenty local restaurants and businesses who were willing to offer discounts to support the fundraising project, said Sterling Grimes, director of cancer services at Nash UNC Health Care.

“Patients diagnosed with cancer can face tremendous financial as well as physical and emotional challenges. This program helps alleviate some financial burden so patients can focus on hope, health and healing. The foundation board approved an overall goal of raising $3 million towards UNC Cancer Care at Nash. The cancer campaign has raised over $400,000 to date and continues to encourage people to consider making a charitable contribution,” said Stacy Jesso, Nash UNC Health Care chief development officer and foundation vice president.

Financial donations used for patients have also come from Northern Nash Senior High Girls’ Volleyball team, Rofelt-Pasha Temple #175, Rocky Mount Prep Student Ambassadors Leadership team, Pfizer, and the 1960s UNC Lettermen, among others, said Grimes.

“Cancer treatment begins at diagnosis and can last a lifetime, forcing patients and families to incur a host of financial hardships. They are often forced to take unpaid leave from work, lack transportation to and from treatment or are unable to afford the cost of medicines for pain or nausea. For these patients, financial stress can become too great and can drive them to end their treatment prematurely,” Jesso said.

Members of the community have also contributed their time and talents to provide items to comfort patients as they undergo cancer treatments. 

Members of several area churches and civic organizations have contributed items including scarves, port pillows, hats, comfort pillows, toboggans, chemo caps and prayer shawls to help make the experience of cancer treatment less stressful.

Some members of the community have offered their services as well. Tosha Aldridge and her pet therapy dog, Lily, often visit patients during treatments to brighten their day.

“We have seen a lot of support from our community, as a whole, for the cancer center,” Grimes said. “I think this highlights how strongly people feel about having quality local cancer care.”

Anyone interested in contributing items to the cancer center should contact Sterling Grimes, director of cancer services at Nash UNC Health Care at or call 252-962-6707. For more information about donating to the patient assistance fund, go to or contact Stacy S. Jesso at or 252-962-8584.

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