Sandra Olson: a Legacy of Kindness and Generosity
With endless energy and a giving spirit, the late Sandra “Sandy” Olson left an impression on all those she encountered while undergoing treatment for cancer at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center. She doted on the nurses and medical staff; it was natural for her to bake cookies and cakes for her care team, make blankets for patients as surprise gifts and swing by the local deli to pick up lunch for the nurses once a month on her way to the hospital.
Sandy’s caregivers at Morristown Medical Center became like a second family. A few weeks before her passing in January of 2022, the Olson family gave a generous gift to the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center in gratitude for her care and remembrance of the friendships she made as a patient.
“She wanted to help every person she met and all animals under her care,” said Sandy’s daughter, Linda Olson Brickey. “My Dad said that her rabbits ate better than him. And we all wanted to be reincarnated as one of her horses. She was a force of nature.”
The late Basking Ridge resident was well known for fulfilling what some would see as small needs to those who crossed her path. One day while Sandy was at the hospital, she immersed herself in making a homemade blanket for her friend’s daughter, one of the many crafts she enjoyed as a pastime.
Anna Pskowski, RN, BSN, assistant nurse manager at the Infusion Center, noticed a s’mores pattern on the blanket’s fabric. “I told her that my daughter, Olivia, loves s’mores and camping,” said Anna. “She looked at me and said, ‘Say no more; I’m making her one.’ That’s how thoughtful she was.”
Weeks passed, and Anna forgot about the conversation, but Sandy had not. “She had bought the fabric for Anna and started working on the blanket before she died but didn’t finish,” said Linda. “I finished it after she passed so Anna could have it. I knew it was intended for someone specific on staff but didn’t know who. Lisa Duff, a foundation officer for the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center, asked around and figured it out. It was the last blanket my mom worked on.”
The day that Anna found out about her surprise gift is a day she will never forget. “I was stunned, and my heart felt like it was exploding when I realized the blanket was for me,” said Anna. “Sandy was so near and dear to us here and had such a selfless spirit. Her smile was so bright whenever she came to see us in the infusion center. She would always ask if she could do something to help the other patients in their journey. She truly loved all of us, and it showed.”
Sandy’s loving spirit will remain a wonderful memory for many, and her family’s benevolence will continue to impact the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center’s future for many years.
To support the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, contact Lisa Duff, foundation officer, at 973-593-2405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.