The Best Hand Ever

Dana Bailey was just as tough as the boys in her neighborhood, but when it came time to gain membership to one of the clubhouses she just helped build with her buddies – she was the one asked to bring the cookies. Instead of looking at is as a slight – the fact that she was the only girl – Dana embraced the request.

Why not? After all, Dana was born to serve.

Dana says the formative years were good ones, she and her brothers and sisters wanted for little, and growing up in her Forth Worth Texas neighborhood dominated by boys, only made Dana tougher, stronger and ready to take on life. As long as that life didn’t involve school work.

“I studied the basics in school, but I was never one for school,” says Dana. “During my high school years I was more ready to get out then to pay attention. School didn’t hold a lot of my interest.”  And wouldn’t you know it there was another reason why Dana wasn’t in love with academics… she had already claimed a seat in the front row in her classroom of life – Dana was in love with a guy  – named Rick.

“We started dating in 1978,” says Dana. “We met at a high school rodeo. After the rodeo they always had a barn dance, with a live band and some boot-skating… dancing. Rick told his buddy he was going to ask me to dance. His buddy bet him five-bucks I wouldn’t dance with him. Rick’s buddy still owes him the money,” she laughs.

Dana and Rick wanted to get married as soon as high school was finished, only problem for Dana, high school would never be finished because she didn’t have the credits to graduate and her dad told her no diploma… no wedding. Dana says she still laughs when she thinks about how she finally earned her way out. “I had to take a night course at a junior high school so I could graduate,” she says. Rick basically took the tests for me so I could make it. He was the one reading the papers and the books and helping me so I could pass.”

Once there was a diploma in hand, the couple wasted no time… getting married one month after graduation. Nearly 37 years later Dana says the secret to success in marriage is the power of suggestion: “When someone says I’m hot, the other one turns on the ceiling fan. When someone says I’m thirsty, the other person gets you a drink. Please and thank you go a long way. So does a kiss every day. Every day.”

Each day and each year for the Bailey’s has been a blessing, with three grown children and now four grandchildren. And it’s these blessings in life you hold onto and keep close to your heart when suddenly life does what life does… simply happens.

It’s difficult for Dana to discuss because it’s still a shock. In August of this past year Rick was diagnosed with Stage-4 lung cancer. No cure, no chance for remission… at least that’s what the doctors say. “He basically takes his chemo treatments and tries to have the best quality of life,” says Dana. “At first he was in-and-out of the hospital. Four different courses of chemo treatments.”

After some complications Dana says Rick is doing “awesome”. “He’s kicking cancer’s ass,” she says. “If anyone can do it this man has proven to be one hell of a fighter and is doing extremely well. The docs are a little taken aback by how well Rick is going through the treatments. We have been so blessed with awesome family, friends and extended families through work. The prayer warriors are out there and we get a lot of support. I do believe in miracles, Rick does too. We just got clearance from the oncologist to go on our trip to Mexico in May. We are living every moment to the fullest.”

It’s all about holding and accepting the hand life deals you. Dana is well-prepared because of her ability to be tough… just like she was in the ‘hood with the boys, but also because she lives and breathes something else – service. For more than two decades Dana has worked in customer service… at an insurance company. Want to learn how to be tough and sweet at the same time? Take a call from someone who is using their insurance, perhaps for the very first time.

“These are people you feel like you can help, or make a difference,” says Dana. I would rather deal with people over the phones, they need help or assistance. They don’t always know how to ask the questions, or really know what they need. It’s such a tremendous service to pull up their information and spot what the concern might be. Get to the core of the problem, save them time and energy. You do it five days a week, 8-to-10 hours a day, it grows on you.”


Dana, Patty Lewis & The Gold Stevie!

The growth Dana has shown being the best at what she does has led twice now, to becoming manager of customer service, this time around at USHEALTH Advisors. Dana and her team of reps are so good they were recently awarded the Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service, it’s recognition for serving at such a high level you are considered one of the best in the world.  Dana says it stems from being supportive with one another and the great culture of the company. “A simple pat on the back goes a long way,” she says. “Every morning I walk through and make it a point to high-five everyone on my team. Say good morning. People really appreciate when they are being recognized for doing a good job. This company is first-place in all those areas and it starts with the CEO Troy McQuagge… caring, loving and giving. It’s just an attitude and it’s contagious in a positive way.”

It’s that positive attitude that Dana and Rick possess to get them through the challenge of Rick’s cancer diagnosis. Dana says her family, the couple’s three children, two daughters and a son and their four grandkids… all boys… that’s their focus, they are all very, very close. And Dana says this has been a hard time. The couple has chosen to face the cancer head-on, but also not to listen to any doctor-predicted timelines, or prognosis. The goal is to realize how they have been blessed. “I’m a very lucky lady,” says Dana.

The Grandkids

Luck certainly plays a big role with the family and with Dana… especially on poker night. “I kick butt in poker,” Dana proudly exclaims. “There are these long-time friends we have and we’ve made a point of playing poker every week over the years. Our oldest daughter and our son like to play as well. Pretty much anytime we get together there will be some type of gambling going on. When we play poker with the friends I always do fairly well for myself, there’s even a competition between Rick and I. I don’t like to lose, I’m a good sport, but I prefer to win.”

And with good reason… whoever loses makes the next round of drinks. Dana says she loves to serve…. but not during poker night.

But Dana also knows that life, while it can be fun, is not just a game. “You’ve got to live everyday like there’s no tomorrow,” says Dana. “I’ve been very blessed to have a very awesome personal life and an awesome professional life. I’m thankful every day, that’s what keeps a smile on my face. Happiness is contagious, so smile and be pleasant to one another. Loves makes the world go round.”

Just like in the poker game she loves Dana knows there’s only so much in your control. With the cards you hold in your hand you do the best you can… the cards on the table, yet to be dealt, are left to chance. You hope that by the end of the round – just like the life you live –  you’re the one left holding the best hand ever.

Until next time thanks for taking the time.

Your Storyteller,
Mark Brodinsky