Cancer Survivors Park

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.

10 Replies to “Cancer Survivors Park”

  1. I unexpectedly found the Omaha park while on a Geocaching trip from Minnesota. As a current stage four patient with brain and lung tumors undoing treatment, it was a very moving experience. I had no idea such places existed, thanks for creating them.

    Earlier in the day I’d heard from the Mayo saying my tumors were all stable. So that’s a small victory is this 5+ year battle.

    I hope to one day visit one of the other parks as a survivor!

    1. Craig, thank you for your kind comments. Richard and Annette Bloch’s intention was that people would find inspiration and hope when visiting these parks.They are meant to support people going through their cancer journey as well as those looking back to the beginning to see how far they have come. I’m sure you did just that. I hope that you are proud of your strength and courage.

      I certainly hope you will have the opportunity to visit our other 23 parks, especially the one in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.

      Should you want to speak to a survivor of your type of cancer, contact Friend for Life Cancer Support Network at 866-374-3634. They are a wonderful source of support for the patient and caregiver.

      Thank you again.

  2. At age 45 I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. Back in year 2004 .
    After a few months of treatments that worked great, I was scheduled for my surgery. All was a success. Got a bag for life!
    Years later, celebrating my 5th year as survivor moved to SanDiego Ca for a few years. Nearby the harbor and discovered in my Walks the “SanDiego Cancer survivors park”…what an inspirational fountain of energy and calm it was for me to come by daily. Today,
    After 14 years of my second life…I am back in the park. Walked thru the maze and knelt to pray and breath life once again.
    Thanks for all you do for us !!!!
    Lets keep the fight going !!!!

  3. Being a two time cancer survivor, my husband has annual CTs. Last week his CT showed spots on his lungs; yesterday he had a PET. His appointment with his oncologist isn’t until next Friday. Again, we find ourselves in the horrid “hurry up and wait” syndrome. So, we gave ourselves a weekend get-away and went to Omaha, NE (we’re from St. Joseph MO). In looking at the city map we saw “Cancer Survivor Park” and added it to our agenda for the day. We are so glad we did. The feeling we both experienced while inside the “Positive Mental Attitude Walk” was therapeutic in itself. While facing fears of the unknown, we felt peace, comfort, and triumph. We know of the park in Kansas City but have never visited it. We hope to go there next weekend. Maybe we’ll seek out the other 22…that would be a wonderful “bucket list.”

  4. “Cancer Survival Park”
    A mission on a circle of survival
    With obstacles and a maze to exit
    Determination and sheer will power can and will
    Put a unfortunate and surprised start
    Into submission if not considered cured
    Your smile and tears of joy
    Will be signatures of a
    Successful Odyssey
    Alfred Guajardo

  5. I was diagnosed with non small cell carcinoma in November, 2003. At the time, I was in the hospital being treated for a collapsed lung. The collapsed lung was not able to normalize after ten days of a tube in my chest trying to get it to inflate so surgery was to be performed and the night before surgery during a CT scan the mass was discovered.

    The surgeon removed the mass by taking a wedge from my right upper lobe. (My pulmonary doctor advised removal of the entire lobe would make me a pulmonary invalid.) I was told the wedge removal got all the cancer.

    Four months later I went to an oncologist for a check up and learned the mass was still present. I began a series of 31 radiation treatments and seven chemotherapy treatments at the end of which I was told there was no longer a mass.

    After several follow up trips with three month intervals I was told the mass had returned and there appeared to be an additional one. So I again went through the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, the last one being in July, 2005.

    During my initial treatments, I became closer to God, was in numerous prayer chains and had the frame of mind that I was NOT going to let this cancer take me away from my family and friends but I was prepared for death if God wanted me.

    Today, July, 2010 I am still in remission. I am 74 years old and have COPD from smoking for 45 years. I quit smoking a year before the cancer as it was getting difficult to breathe with the slightest exertion.

    I wanted to let anyone know that a cancer diagnosis in not a death notice.

    1. Thank you for your comments Tony. You did not give up and it seems to have paid off. May I take this time to also encourage anyone with a diagnosis of cancer to get a prompt and proper second opinion – regardless of the prognosis. A second opinion will offer a different perspective and a new knowledge set that might make the difference in your life.

      Anyone can call the Bloch Cancer Hotline, 800-433-0464, to obtain a list of comprehensive cancer centers who offer second opinions.

  6. Today, the words, “You have cancer,” no longer means, “You will die from cancer.” Fortunately, more people than ever before are surviving cancer. Unfortunately, being diagnosed with cancer can still strike terror in our hearts. Sharing our stories about surviving this disease gives patients in treatment,and the people who love and care for them, hope and reassurance. I wrote my story of surviving breast cancer twice in SURVIVING CANCERLAND (to be published soon) and whenever possible, I tell my story to anyone willing to listen. So, if you are a survivor or know someone who is, spread the good news.

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