Her Story: Rita Haskew

Motivating Stories from Local Women


Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.


Photo by Emily Pérez Long / Photos taken on location at Proof Bar and Incubator




Rita Haskew, Lookout Valley


Life before 2016 was much different than it is today. My husband Gary Haskew and I were very active and involved in the community. We were very much in love and did everything together. Known around town as Dr. B., Gary was adored by everyone, and he always encouraged others. One day, Gary unexpectedly passed away, and my world was turned upside down in an instant. It was like a bomb had exploded. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there’s no time limit on grief. Everyone is different. Their love, situation, relationship – it’s all different, and the process and time it takes to heal are different, too. 

After my husband passed away, Dr. Rob Headrick, a thoracic surgeon who had previously operated on Gary, reached out to me and asked me to join his team. At the time, I was a retired office manager who had no experience in the medical industry. Dr. Headrick explained to me that my role was to love his patients. I needed to spend time with them one-on-one and do anything in my power to make their journey just a little bit easier. Sometimes, I would help them with their medications or paperwork or make them dinner, and sometimes, all I really needed to do was listen. 

I got a puppy, whom I named Lady Ransom, and I trained her to be a therapy dog. I would take her around to lung cancer patients, and it was amazing to see families begin to open up. It was through this process that I realized that families struggling with a lung cancer diagnosis had nowhere to turn in our community, so I created a private support group called the Second Wind Society. People going through difficult times need encouragement, above all else. It’s something that you can’t provide through an email or a text message. They need to be able to see someone who loves them and can assure them that they have what it takes to make it through. They need support and hope.

Losing Gary has brought me an indescribable pain, but I understand now that this was all part of God’s plan. Now, I’m able to work with others to deal with emotions that I understand and to help bring them comfort and peace. To be able to make a difference in someone else’s life has been a blessing that has helped to heal me. Love is truly a medicine that can’t be prescribed.

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