Inspired by her grandmother, this nurse refuses to let fear stand in her way
Courtesy of CeraVe
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Have you ever wondered what drives nurses to do what they do? We took a walk in one nurse’s shoes to get a better understanding of what makes her truly remarkable.

Emily Danz of Fort Lee, New Jersey, grew up watching her Yiayia (“grandmother” in Greek), battle heart disease. As a child, she listened with curiosity and amazement as the doctors explained cardiac procedures and outcomes to her family.


Then, when she was old enough to drive, Danz became responsible for taking Yiayia to and from her doctor’s appointments and hospital visits.

Inspired by all she learned about her grandmother’s journey, Danz decided to enter nursing school after graduating high school—a decision that made her grandmother burst with pride.

“She told me when I graduated nurse practitioner school that it was one of the greatest things she witnessed in all 89 years of her life,” said Danz. “She knew I’d go far and do well.”

Courtesy of Emily Danz

And she has. Nurse Danz has used her childhood experiences as an onlooker to her grandmother’s care as a springboard into caring for others. The very first patient she cared for after graduating nursing school in 2014 was suffering from an active tuberculosis infection. Although tuberculosis is curable and preventable, it’s also highly contagious and transmittable by air. It takes the inhalation of only a few of these germs to become infected.

“I remember being petrified to walk into that room,” said Danz.

Fortunately, an experienced nurse mentor gave her a pep talk that she will never forget—in fact, she says, it shaped the entire trajectory of her career.

“[She told] me not to be afraid and that caring for a tuberculosis patient is like caring for any other patient, but just with a special mask and gown. From that day on, I realized that there was no reason to ever be afraid or scared of a patient, and I actually took care of that patient every time I worked for the entirety of their stay — which was over three months.”

Emily | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Years later when she found herself working in a hospital during a global pandemic, Nurse Danz channeled that early experience to get her through the fear of caring for patients infected with COVID-19.

“When I was assigned [my first] COVID patient, it was like my very first day of nursing all over again … my mind quickly traveled to the pep talk I was given and reminded me of the oath I took to care for patients no matter the situation,” said Danz. “I continue to carry this empathy with me every day for every single patient I care for—it is something instilled in me.”

Danz, who has also become an instructor to nursing students in their last year of nursing school, recognizes the importance of seeing every patient as an individual and not just a number. She teaches these students bedside clinical skills and medication administration, focusing clearly on arming them with the confidence to interact with patients comfortably, no matter the situation.

Courtesy of CeraVe

“From day one, I learned not to be afraid and it has helped me tremendously throughout my career. In every single class, I make sure to tell my students stories, events and real-life scenarios I’ve been through to prepare and engage them. It is imperative that the new nurses coming into the field are confident and empathetic. When you’re afraid, patients sense it and it affects their healing,” said Danz.

The goal of CeraVe’s Heroes Behind the Masks Chapter 2: A Walk In Our Shoes campaign is to highlight exceptional nurses like Nurse Danz and recognize the profound impact they have on their patients and communities. Follow along this week for more stories and to learn about CeraVe’s ongoing commitment to the nurse community here.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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