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One Good Thing: J's Chemo Bags

A bag of kindness for people in the fight of their lives.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Chances are you or someone you know has gone or is going through cancer. The fight is usually a hard one. So, any comforts that can be provided during that journey are generally a welcome gift. A woman in Grand Rapids knows that. And from her hands to those of the patients, she's passing along gifts to help them. Gifts, she says, she wishes could have gone to someone else, too.

Handwarmers. Candy. Crossword puzzles. Playing cards. All These are just some of the things a cancer patient may find in one of J's Chemo Bags.

"Anybody who gets a port put in at St. Mary's gets a bag," says Jessica Wertschl.

The married mom of two works full-time and four years ago started putting together the bags, in part in honor of a grandmother who passed away from breast cancer.

"It brings me back to memories of her and I wish I could have done it for her. So I do it for other people."

She started off small. Just something for the holidays.

"That wasn't enough for me."

The passion grew. But, so did the demand.

"It's sad. Really? This many people have cancer?"

But growing with that passion and demand was also a pool of people.

"A donation covers a bag."

Who were willing to chip in.

"I have a book here with all the names. Anybody who's donated, who they donated in memory of..."

After a few years, Jessica was thinking about stopping. But another person, Dr. Marilee Mead, also battling breast cancer, urged her to continue.

"Before she passed, she said, "Don't stop."

So, she hasn't. 

"Somebody's going to call me soon. I better have some bags ready. So I just quick make some more, 'cause you never know! I know these people don't know me. I just wanna do good."

If you want to know more about or donate to J's Chemo Bags, check out her Facebook page.

If you have a One Good Thing you'd like to submit - someone or something that makes West Michigan a good place to live - email me with your photos and-or video at OneGoodThing@13OnYourSide.com.

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