There’s a park where I go to find hope
HOUSTON (Reuters) – During one of my cancer treatment sessions in Houston, I came upon a beautiful sculpture garden and fountain, called Survivors Park, which I visit regularly to renew my belief that I can beat this awful disease.
I have lung cancer. It is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body has a particularly poor prognosis – the 5-year survival rate is just 4 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Even on a recent sweltering day here, I wandered over there for inspiration. There were two homeless men sleeping on benches in the shade of pink flowering trees and office workers eating their lunches, ignoring the slumbering men. I suspect these people give little or no thought to cancer or its victims. Why would they? Everyone has their own problems.
I walk around the sculpture and stroll by the ornate fountain thinking good thoughts, as if optimism could be collected, like picking coins up off the ground. I’ve read and re-read the inspirational messages carved on plaques around this tiny park. I remind myself that people get through this dreadful disease. I tell myself I’ll get through it. I often ask my husband because I know he’ll say yes, with conviction.
Since stumbling upon this park, I have learned of its purpose. The R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation created and maintains 24 Survivors Parks in North America, including the ones in Houston and in my hometown, Chicago. Each one was individually designed to complement the surrounding area.
The organization’s website says the parks are meant to give hope and courage to the newly diagnosed patient, to give direction and determination to those in treatment, and to quell the fear of cancer among the rest.
This park has helped me regain my strength when it falters.
Pictured below, to the right, is a sculpture representing people going through treatment. If you look closely, there is unmistakable fear on the faces of those receiving treatment and relief on the faces of those who are done. I’d put myself somewhere in the middle — still getting treatment and hopeful it will work while afraid that it won’t.
Below are some of the messages adorning the plaques I found useful or inspirational:
“Realize that cancer is a life-threatening disease, but some beat it. Make up your mind you will be one of those who do.”
”Find a qualified doctor in whom you have confidence who believes he can successfully treat you.”
”Regardless of the prognosis, get an independent qualified second opinion.”
”Make a commitment to do everything in your power to help yourself fight the disease.”
”There are treatments for every type of cancer.”
“Some people have been cured from every type of cancer.”
“There are 7 million living Americans who have been diagnosed with cancer. 3 million are considered cured.
Treat your cancer properly and thoroughly and have a positive metal attitude.”
“Get Physician Data Query from 1-800-4CANCER. Know your options. Knowledge heals.”
“Seek and accept support.”