Arrow-right Camera


Co-Workers Let Friend Take Holiday Vacation Days Donated To Man Fighting Cancer

Sat., Dec. 21, 1996

Christmas spirit accomplished Friday what 14 years of cancer couldn’t - it made Pete Moon weep.

Moon’s co-workers at URM Stores Inc. in Spokane showered their fellow truck driver with cash and gave up their vacations to help him survive his latest bout with cancer.

“They gave up their vacation pay,” he said, pausing to regain his composure. “This throws me for a loop when stuff like this happens. It’s humbling.”

Cancer has plagued Moon since he was 22. Until this latest bout, it has remained in his left leg.

Two years ago, doctors in Maryland gave his leg its own blood supply while they hit it with a toxic dose of chemicals. Then they reconnected it to his body’s circulation system.

The surgery chased the cancer away until last October, when Moon’s leg began to ache. One night, he couldn’t lift his leg to push the clutch pedal in his truck.

He notified his dispatcher that he’d need a day off to see the doctor. He hasn’t been back to work since. Doctors found a tumor near his pelvis.Thanksgiving, it had reached the size of a football.

Doctors prescribed an intense four-day regimen of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and planned surgery to remove it for January.

Moon, who’s 36, used up his sick time by Thanksgiving. He, his wife and daughter had decided not to fret about Christmas.

“We thought we’d just wait until January or February to celebrate,” he said.

But plans changed on Friday. Steve Ross, Moon’s boss, arrived at Moon’s Hayden home with $1,000 in cash and the news that URM employees had donated enough vacation pay to cover Moon’s paychecks until late April.

“And I still have guys waiting to give if he needs more,” Ross said. “Pete is very well-liked here and the workers back him all the way.”

The gift means that Moon will keep his medical benefits through his upcoming surgery. He needs to work - at least on paper - 80 hours a month to qualify for the coverage.

The employees are donating more than money; they are letting Moon claim their vacation days in place of his work days.

Moon telephoned his wife at work right away Friday to tell her about his charitable friends.

“She’s been working and working. This has been hard on her,” he said. “Now we don’t have to worry about making the house payment and I won’t get up to my eyeballs in crushing debt.

“These guys would’ve done the same thing if it was July. I’m really touched.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: profile

Click here to comment on this story »