In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

May 20, 2021

Young Lewis Lechtenberg rocks Mayo Clinic, spreads joy during his proton treatment

By In the Loop

While rocking his proton beam radiation treatment, a four-year-old battling brain cancer decided to add something to his Rochester trips to bring some joy to others.

Walking around the grounds at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, it's not unusual to see a rock here or there. But inside Mayo's buildings might be another story. And the story only gets better if it's a painted rock — specifically one found inside the Jacobson or Charlton building.

What might seem like randomly placed rocks is actually a well-planned effort by a four-year-old Decorah, Iowa, boy to bring joy into the lives of others.

Lewis Lechtenberg and his family have been on a three-year journey since he was first diagnosed at 17 months old with brain cancer. After surgery and radiation treatment, he went into remission. But during a regular checkup this past August, his care team discovered cancer had returned.

Mom and dad, also known as Karla and Justin Lechtenberg, decided to do a family portrait before Lewis' next surgery. During the photo session at a local park, Lewis found a painted rock that had been placed by the Decorah Rocks Facebook group. This gave Karla the idea to bring a few painted rocks each day to Mayo Clinic in Rochester during Lewis' six weeks of proton beam radiation treatment. She hoped this would change the daily focus from getting treatment to hiding the rocks.

Each day that Lewis and Karla traveled to campus for his 30 treatments, he brought a few rocks that he would hide or give to others to hide. He gave some to the staff members greeting him or treating him.

One day while waiting for his appointment, Lewis noticed a young girl nearby. Lewis and Karla realized she was a patient, too, and Lewis decided that he wanted to bring some joy to her day. So instead of hiding the rock, he shared it with her.

However they're distributed, Lewis hopes the rocks bring people joy.

Since Karla is a busy mom with Lewis' two older sisters and newborn baby brother William, she didn't have time to create the rocks herself, so she asked the Decorah Rocks Facebook Group if they would design and paint rocks for Lewis to bring to Rochester. The generous group was happy to participate.

Some rocks include uplifting and inspiring words for patients or staff. Some, just a smiley face. They all have a label that asks the finder to share their smiles by posting a selfie with the rock and then re-hide it to share the love. In other words, leave no stone unturned.


Tags: Patient Stories

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