Cancer Survivors Parks: The Changing Landscape of Cancer
Cancer Survivors Parks include twenty-five parks in fourteen states, five in California alone, and two in Canada, one in Ontario and the other one in Ottawa. The first park was established in 1990 in Kansas City, Missouri. All the parks have a space for celebration, a space for learning, a space for healing, and a space for hope and all of them feature a walk with fourteen bronze plaques that inspire a positive mental attitude, eight life-sized bronze figures passing through a labyrinth symbolizing cancer treatment, and the “Road to Recovery” features seven plaques explaining what cancer is and what one can do to overcome the disease. Regardless of the diagnosis, this is a beautiful inspiring area for nurturing one’s soul.
The parks are funded by the Block Foundation, the man who started H&R Block tax preparation. Mr. Richard Block (1926-2004) along with his brother Henry were entrepreneurs but Richard, once diagnosed with cancer, set his goal to help others fight the disease. Richard was given three months to live when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 1978. So much for the doctor’s dismal sentence; Mr. Block went into remission. He and his wife Annette founded the Cancer Hotline in 1980; other treatment resources followed.
Acknowledging his passion, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to a six-year term with the National Cancer Advisory Board. But cancer returned when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in the late 1980s and again, he beat the odds. Sadly, when he was seventy-eight, he passed away in 2004 from heart failure leaving behind his wife, three daughters, and ten grandchildren.
Annette and Richard wrote three books together:
1981 – Cancer . . . There’s Hope
1985 – Fighting Cancer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Yourself Fight Cancer
1992 – Guide for Cancer Supporters: Step-by-Step Ways to Help a Relative or Friend Fight Cancer
Thank you, Chris, for making me aware of this wonderful resource and for your pictures of the San Diego Cancer Survivor Park located at 3600 N. Harbor Drive in San Diego, California.
The first picture Chris shared is of a beautifully domed building. The second picture is looking toward the Labyrinth through one of the arched openings. The third picture is of the eight life-sized bronze figures passing through the labyrinth symbolizing the maze of cancer treatment. If you look closely, you will notice the figure of a young woman starting her journey, following those who have survived; soon, she too will exit and begin her new journey to recovery and renewal.