The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Diane LaPoint sat at a table piecing together a puzzle in the same waiting room she had occupied many times before, but this time her husband was not with her.
Diane and Jim LaPoint visited Dr. Joseph Kong’s office at the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas a couple of years ago when Jim LaPoint was suffering from lung cancer, then bladder cancer. He would wear different-colored hats of various fashions when he walked in for treatment, and he would pluck them off his own head and hand them out to other patients as he left.
That was where Diane LaPoint got the idea to donate crocheted hats to the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas. She presented a wicker basket chock-full of crocheted hats in several shades to the center Monday morning.
Kong, Jim LaPoint’s oncologist, accepted the basket by heartily hugging Diane LaPoint.
“Everybody is really special to us because every life is a gift,” Kong said.
Monday was the first time Diane LaPoint set foot in the cancer center since her husband died.
“Walking back here is emotional,” she said as tears touched her eyes.
Jim LaPoint did not win his battle with cancer. Jim and Diane LaPoint spent 47 years together in marriage before he died, and now Diane LaPoint carries on by working with the B.A. Ritter Senior Citizen Center in Nederland.
LaPoint was able to give back to the doctors who helped her husband with the help of donations of thread and four women from the B.A. Ritter Senior Citizen Center. Virginia McGuyer, Karoline Wells and Josey Villnoskey crocheted the hats, and Sue Kirkham provided the basket and ribbon that held the hats.
LaPoint said she has tried to tackle at least two service projects each year with the B.A. Ritter Senior Citizen Center because she wanted the senior citizens at the center to stay active in the community. And she has a bit of a soft spot for the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas.
“We are blessed to have it here. It gives us more time with our families,” LaPoint said of the center. “We know we’re in good hands.”
Kong’s hands were not always helping folks in the heart of Port Arthur. He moved his office to Port Arthur from Houston at the urging of his Port Arthur patients.
Originally, Kong worked at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. At the request of his patients, he tried working in Port Arthur for a year before he decided to move his practice here.
“I came here, and I was hooked,” Kong said. “And you know what it was that hooked me? It was the people.”
He recruited some folks from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and brought them to Port Arthur with him. Now, Kong learns what is new in the field of cancer treatment and implements it at the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas so his patients can receive cutting edge treatments without driving to Houston, he said.
“We’re like a neighbor down the street,” Kong said.