A longtime employee of Jo-Ann craft stores who lost her job while undergoing treatment for cancer learned she would be able to return to the position she loves.
Deborah Browning, 60, of Highland, was profiled on the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Friday. While on medical leave for breast cancer treatment, she learned she was being dismissed after working for more than 20 years at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.
On Saturday morning, the company told NBC4 that Browning's medical leave would be reinstated, meaning she could keep her position at the Redlands store.
"Due to the unique circumstances involved in this case, we have reviewed the situation and made the decision to reinstate Ms. Browning's Leave of Absence. This action has already been taken, and she has been informed of her status with the company," said Margaret Skinner, director of corporate communications for Jo-Ann Stores, Inc.
Browning called NBC4 after hearing the news Saturday morning and left an emotional message stating how grateful she was for the help.
Many who heard about Browning's situation took to Facebook and Twitter to tell Jo-Ann Stores, Inc., that they thought she never have been let go. Some said they planned to boycott the stores.
When news of Browning's reinstatement spread, her supporters touted the power of social media to influence corporate decision making.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a year ago, and she continued to come to work while receiving chemotherapy. She wore a bandana on her head to cover hair loss.
She worked till March, when she could no longer function in the job.
Even when she wasn't working, she would go into the store on Lugonia Avenue. Her job, she said, was not about earning money.
"Even though I'm not working, if a customer walks by and looks a little lost, I'll go, 'Can I help you? Did you need to find something?'" Browning said.
While on medical leave, Browning asked for more time off. Her doctor said she would not be healthy enough to return to work until late February 2013.
But her request was denied on Nov. 12. Browning was heartbroken.
She had hoped to make it to 25 years of employment with the company she began working for in 1990 in Washington state.
"I was so close," Browning said Friday.
She couldn't be reached Saturday to get further reaction to the news about her job status.
But on Friday, she had teared up talking about her situation.
"What would I say to them? I would like my job back, please, when I'm able to go back to work," Browning said. "Hopefully, everything's going to be all done by February and at the end of February I can go back to work."