A lunch fit for survivors
ON the third Thursday of every month, a table is prepared at the Lismore Workers Sports Club at Goonellabah for about 15 people, who arrive about noon for a very special gathering.
Many use wheelchairs or wheelie walkers to get around, and they come from as far as Mullumbimby and Casino.
But this is one outing they are reluctant to miss.
Each person once had, or continues to have, serious health issues.
Some are amputees, like Wardell's Errol Leeson, who has lost both legs.
Former Lismore City councillor and "loveable rogue" Reg Baxter is a regular at the lunch get-togethers.
He founded the Lismore Baseball Club (Baxter Field in Lismore is named in his honour) and he was a star cricketer.
Mr Baxter - who now has one leg - enjoys the lunches and chatting with old friends.
Others have been diagnosed with cancer or heart conditions.
The one thing they have in common is the strong bond they formed while in rehabilitation at St Vincent's Hospital in Lismore.
One of the group, Margaret Webb of Wollongbar, said they had formed tight friendships.
"We've all been through a lot, but when we get together we don't talk about that stuff," she said.
"We want to have a laugh and enjoy ourselves. It's a show of strength and determination."
Ms Webb spent 20 months in hospital after clots were found in her legs in 2007.
But not all of the clots could be removed and part of one of her legs had to be cut off.
"I also had heart problems and clots around my heart," she said.
"It was a huge ordeal - one thing after another. I had two years of really hard times and it takes a while for your body to get over all of the shocks. So it's nice for us to join up with each other.
"This is all about friendship, giving each other a confidence boost and helping each other.
"We know that we are there for each other. It's good for morale."
Anyone is welcome to attend the lunches on the third Thursday of each month from noon at the Lismore Workers Sports Club.