Cancer––not to be confused with the zodiac sign that denotes sympathy and compassion––is one of the worst ailments to befall humankind. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible to live through it, but there is no known cure and it has taken the lives of countless people from all over the globe. As one Hanover County woman proved by honoring her late daughter with random acts of kindness––gifting blankets to cancer patients––however, their legacy can live on.
Virginia Nichols, named for her home state, is a vendor at the Garden Gate Antique Shop in Mechanicsville, who describes herself as an artsy person and who finds it comforting to make something new every day. She takes the money she earns from the antique shop and uses it to buy crafts material for blankets. But those aren’t sold––they’re gifted.
“When I first came here as a vendor, she was one of the first people to come up to me and just be so kind to me,” said Carol Broughman, who has a booth alongside Nichols at the Garden Gate. ‘’A few months ago, my daughter told me about a friend of hers who was battling breast cancer.’’
Virginia overheard this and left her colleague a surprise a few days later––a blanket with some crossword puzzles inscribed. This gift had meaning: her own daughter Gwendolyn had been snatched from this world the same way. Gwen had received a blanket from one of her own friends and kept it all her life. “She was very strong, never complained, just a really good girl. I figured if it meant that much to her that I should do it for other people,” Nichols said with tears in her eyes.
For this small but powerful gesture, Virginia was a recipient of the NBC12 Acts of Kindness Award, $300 in cash and a $50 gift card to Mexico Restaurant. She revealed that she too had struggled to fight breast cancer––she had it at the same time as her daughter but managed to survive. Making the blankets will always be her way of honoring Gwen and cancer victims and their families.