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Community of chemotherapy, part II

Last Monday in a blog post about the conversations that come up during chemotherapy (my friend Chris faces a year's worth for breast cancer) I mentioned how quilts made by Methodists make their way around the country, church by church.

We knew this because a man named Lewis, accompanying his friend to chemotherapy, stopped by Chris' chair to comment on her blanket. He received a similar on when he underwent heart surgery several years ago.

Today, Lewis was back with his friend. He stopped by again and talked with Chris, and he told us that after his heart surgery, he took early retirement rather than go back full-time to his hospital job. He was in his late 50s and knew he still had much to offer.

So he helped start a program in Clearwater, Florida that sends backpacks filled with food home with at-risk kids, so that the children don't get too hungry over the weekend in homes where the adults might not be able to provide some basic needs, such as food. It's called Pack-A-Sack 4 Kids. His heart surgery changed Lewis' life in dramatic ways, and it led to this great work in the world.

Serious illness can kill us, make us bitter. And it can change the trajectory of our lives for the better. As it did for Lewis.

Lewis is visiting Spokane only a short while, to show support for his friend here, but we were glad to get to know him a bit in the community of chemotherapy.

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.