Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Frame of Mind 3/28/07 Lent

The congregation at Grace Lutheran Church built a pyramid of cardboard
blocks, reading off statistics about children in poverty as they did.

Each cube represented an essential building block of life, the poverty
statistics printed on the side. The information was grim - every 43
seconds a child is born into poverty in the United States, more than
2,000 babies every year - the cubes stacked in a five level pyramid.

Take away one of the essentials, Pastor Joanne Fitzgerald asked, and
does the pyramid fall?

"If I take away clothing, how do children go to school? How do they
play with other children? How do they exist?" she asked

To illustrate her point, Fitzgerald inched a cube out from the pyramid
one at a time. On the third time, the pyramid collapsed.

The lesson completed, the congregation settled in to watch a video
about children and poverty. The lights turned off, the gray overcast
day filtering into the church basement through half-drawn blinds.
People fell silent, the only sounds coming from the movie and the tick
of rain against the windows.

-Chris LaFortune

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Frame of Mind 3/07/07 Road to Recovery

Mary T. Small understands how important it is for cancer patients to get to their appointments on time.

Her husband faced cancer twice, first Hodgkin's disease while they were dating. He was a cancer survivor for 36 years. But he was a smoker and was later diagnosed with lung and brain cancer.

"Jerry never thought it would hit him again," Small said. "He was like, you're immune to it. But you're not."

Small's husband died 10 years ago.

"Yesterday would have been our 47th wedding anniversary," Small said.

Small spoke about her husband as she sat in the waiting room at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, a cup of water in her hand. She waited for Kalyani Koneru, an Oak Park resident and cancer survivor herself.

Diagnosed with an inflammatory carcinoma, Koneru has had a mastectomy. There's no sign of cancer left in her body, she said.

Small drove Koneru to see her doctor at Rush all last week. She's a volunteer with the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program.

For a while, Koneru said, her husband was driving her to the hospital for appointments at the Chicago medical center, bringing her home again to Oak Park and then heading to work back downtown. He'd miss a half day of work when he did, she said, but Koneru couldn't drive herself for treatment.

Then she heard about the Cancer Society's program.

"So here's my angel," Koneru said.

-Chris LaFortune