We believe that the second greatest correctable cause of cancer mortality (smoking being #1) is relating death and cancer. Many have been brought up to believe that a diagnosis of cancer means automatic death. Some believe that treatments are worse than death. When they are diagnosed, they give up and do not try to fight.
This brought us to the idea of a Cancer Survivors Park. It would not only encourage current patients to have the will to fight, but would subconsciously give healthy people, who know they will never get cancer, the will to fight when they are subsequently diagnosed. Normally parks memorialize the dead. We wanted to do something as a tribute to the living. A Park would be there daily – continuously – to give the same message, “Don’t equate death and cancer”. Each person who passes would be subconsciously reminded. Further, a patient could stroll through the park and gain strength from it’s various components.
Three fundamental elements were perceived. First is a sculpture as a focal point. Created by the renowned Mexican sculptor, Victor Salmones, it is eight life-size figures passing through a maze depicting cancer treatments and success. It is placed in the most visible point in the park for passers-by because it needs no explanation. People can walk among the figures, touch them, walk through the maze and generally visualize themselves being helped. It is moving.
The second element in the park is a “Positive Mental Attitude Walk”. This is an area that a person can stroll through, meditate and read some 14 plaques; 4 are inspirational and 10 are specific suggestions on fighting cancer.
The third element is The Road to Recovery. This consists of 7 bronze plaques with common sense advice to use during treatment.
Other than these three components, each park is totally unique, being designed to complement the local environment. It wants to make a magnificent showing to the passer-by. 97% of the American population does not have cancer, knows they will never get it, has no interest in the park because cancer only happens to the other guy. However, 33% of the people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. By passing daily and seeing the beautiful structures and the sign, “Cancer Survivors Park”, individuals will realize when diagnosed that there is a possibility of surviving and hopefully will try to fight rather than give up.
In Kansas City, the main focal point is a massive arch of triumph. In Omaha, it is 14 stainless columns representing a tower of light. In Houston it is beautifully carved stone work covered in wrought iron, the dome of which has 2,000 lights. New Orleans is planned as 14 architecturally different columns with a French style arch and a fountain. Columbus is a massive 5000 granite ball floating in low pressure water in a base constantly revolving. The motion can be stopped with one finger and made to go any other direction. It symbolizes cancer that is constantly moving but with personal intervention, the course might be changed. Cleveland is a tall obelisk of carved brick. Landscaping, flowers, water, etc. are all extremely important. We must have an area that looks beautiful 365 days a year. We love color in the seasons where color is possible, but we would not want color to be the focal point if it was not possible 12 months a year.