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From Deep Loss of Parents Comes Avid Support For Winship Cancer Research

James H. Lewis

James H. Lewis gives to support research in areas personal to his family.

James H. Lewis was very close to his mother and father, and when both of them passed away in 2013-2014 from cancer, he remained mystified why more wasn't known about this brutal disease or how to cure it. In his grief, he didn't take action for a long while. "I was numb for a year and a half after their deaths," he recalled.

That changed when he read about the possibility of making a planned gift to Emory. He had picked up an Emory magazine while waiting for his regular appointment at Emory Eye Center and read about a donor who had made a gift from his estate to Emory. That's when Lewis knew what he wanted to do.

"There was a number listed in the article, and so I called it and said, ‘How do I do this? How do I invest in what Emory's doing?'" said Lewis. "The Office of Gift Planning at Emory made it so easy."

Emory's wide range of medical research programs give donors the opportunity to support areas of research that have touched them personally. Cancer was at the top of his list.

"I think we don't do enough in this country about cancer," he said. "It's an attitude that someone else will take care of it, and this is why it is taking so long to end it. I wanted to do something after going through what I did with my mom and dad."

Lewis, an attorney who lives in Douglasville, also researched other cancer centers and how they use donations. He wanted assurance that his gift would be used for research and wanted to publicize his gift so others might be inspired to match it.

"Emory has always stood apart for me," he said. "The care from doctors and staff here are just super. I always thought they cared, and it makes a big difference in treatment when you can tell that someone cares. I didn't want to give it to a place where 90 percent of it would go to administrative fees, and I didn't want it to be complicated."

A tour of Emory research labs helped seal his decision to make a planned gift.

"I saw how deep the attitude went, that it wasn't just the doctors who cared, but the researchers, and that made me even more comfortable making this gift," he said. "Emory's researchers are fighting for better treatments, better quality of life, and-above all-cures."

The decision was validated recently when Winship successfully treated a friend of his with cancer. "The first doctors missed it, but when my friend went to Winship, the doctors didn't give up and now she is cancer free," he said. "The medical professionals who cared for my parents weren't like that."

Lewis made his estate gift in 2015. It will benefit the Winship Cancer Institute, the Emory Brain Health Center and the Emory Eye Center.

Making the gift helped Lewis find a new purpose.

"When my parents died, I wondered what I was going to do with the rest of my life, and I needed to get out of my funk and cloud, and think of what I could do to make the situation better," he recalled. "We need cancer research to move along, and move along a lot quicker. We can do better, and it's going to take more than just me to make that happen."

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