WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - When it comes to moms, most people think about how loving and giving they are, but Debbie Deal has not only made that her motto at home, she's made it her career.
She was nominated to be WITN's first Mom of the Month by her daughter, Jessica Woolard.
"That's what selfless means, when you would put anybody's needs or wants above your own," Woolard says.
Hearing how her daughter describes her brings tears to Deal's eyes. "She's my heartbeat," she tells WITN.
It doesn't take long talking to these women for you to realize just how strong of a bond they have after they say fate brought them together. While most of the time, you can't pick family, in this case, that's exactly what happened.
"I was adopted when I was nine and I just felt like the luckiest girl in the world, because I got a second chance at life and I got the best," Woolard says.
"I just knew, we just knew, from the very beginning that it was God that put us together," her mom says.
Deal says they were contacted by a friend about adopting Woolard and she says they fell in love with her right away. "It meant everything to me. Like I said, for years, I always wanted a child and I couldn't have a child."
Caring for others comes naturally to nurse Debbie, a 20 year veteran of the Marion L. Sheppard Cancer Center in Washington, being there for those fighting for their lives.
"I truly, honestly love my job," she says. "I love going to work. I love my patients. I've met some of the most amazing people in the whole wide world."
"She just has that touch, I mean, you can just see it, the patients love her," Woolard says.
And her caring nature can also be seen at home where she now lives with her 83-year-old mother, Joyce Congleton.
"We help each other, let's put it that way," Deal explains. "We're partners. We're partners in crime."
"The kitchen is mine," Congleton says. "She nurses and I cook."
Congleton says she's extremely proud of her daughter. Both her and Woolard say they are often approached by Deal's patients, who all say they love the woman known as "the sheriff" at the center.
Woolard says her mother has that nickname since she's one of the nurses who has been there the longest and someone who isn't afraid to lovingly lay down the law with her patients.
At Deal's home in Washington, family pictures cover the walls, pictures filled with memories and loved ones who have passed.
For nearly two decades, Deal also took care of her husband, Terry, who had heart disease and diabetes. He passed away four years ago.
"Her day never ended, until she went to bed," Woolard describes. "Like every day she was a nurse and a mom and a wife."
Now, there's a new patient that Deal never thought she'd see sitting in the chemo bay at her work.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October," Woolard tells WITN. She was diagnosed at stage two.
"It was a shock, but I deal with it every day, I see it every day, but it's different when it's your child," Deal says.
Jessica has three more chemo treatments to go before she can hopefully have surgery. Then comes radiation.
Scared is such a minuscule way to describe their emotions, but Debbie says she knows her daughter is getting the best care. "She's in God's hands and she's going to be ok, I know she will."
These women definitely believe that everything happens for a reason. They believe it was fate that they were brought together so many years ago and Deal now says it was fate that she became a nurse at a cancer center, to prepare her to help take care of her daughter, her most precious patient of all.
While Deal can't directly help in her daughter's treatment since they are family, Woolard says her mom is there to always hold her hand and to answer any questions along the way.
Each month WITN is going to honor a special mother, just like Deal, as our Mom of the Month. The winner will be announced the third Monday of each month on WITN News at 5.
Every featured mom will receive a $100 gift card, as well as free oil changes for a year from Johnny's Tire Sales and Service in Greenville.
You can nominate your special mom by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.