We were in San Diego, CA last week visiting our son James, who recently relocated there with his job. We hadn’t been there in 30 years and were looking forward to re-visiting. We recalled that it was a beautiful city. Our expectations were met. The city is a paradise. There are parks, waterways, marinas and boats all over the place. Despite people gathering everywhere to be outdoors; the parks, beaches, city spaces, etc., all areas were immaculate. Even freeway dividers are filled with exotic shrubs and flowers like bird of paradise. So nice…

So, we were driving along a main road and I spotted a small park with a waterfall and fountain and the sign posted on it said “Cancer Survivor’s Park”. Naturally, as a breast cancer survivor, I was curious. I’ve never seen anything like this. We turned the car around to go check it out.

The compact park was a well planned space with an ornate gazebo, the pretty waterfall fountain, meditation area, and a large bronze sculpture of several life-size people passing through an open doorway. Then, what moved me to tears were the numerous bronze plaques posted on pillars of the open maze. The plaques had inspirational messages on them that reminded me of my own feelings and fears when I was diagnosed and undergoing treatment. Like this:

Cancer Survivors Park in San DIego, CA“Cancer is the most curable of all chronic diseases”.

“Treat your cancer promptly, properly, & thoroughly & have a positive mental attitude”.

“Find a qualified doctor in whom you have confidence who believes he can successfully treat you”.

Cancer Survivors Park in San Diego CAAnd the one that gave me goose bumps, because its message had been a lifesaver for Bryan and I:

“Regardless of the prognosis, get an independent qualified 2nd opinion”.

One of the last ones read “Get state of the art treatment information at 1-800-4-CANCER. Know all of your options. Knowledge heals”.

The park is a project of Richard and Annette Bloch’s R.A. Cancer Foundation. I had never heard of this foundation before. I was determined to look this up when I returned home.

When I did, I discovered an amazing story and realized what an amazing resource this site is!

The R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation was created by H&R Block co-founder Richard Bloch and his wife Annette after he was diagnosed, initially as terminal, with lung cancer. Bloch, life myself proved the initial doctors wrong, and waged a 2 yr war on his cancer and won. In remission, he then decided to devote their lives to helping others fight and win battles with cancer. The narrow goal of the foundation is to simply help people who are diagnosed with cancer to become knowledgeable about their disease and to offer them support to fight it with hope. All of their services are free.

The parks are just one way to offer their services and guidance to the public in a very visible way. There are 24 parks in the US and Canada. Each is individually designed to complement the surrounding area. Certainly this one in SD fit in. Each park contains the same 3 factors though: The positive mental attitude walk of bronze plaques; the life-size sculptures that exhibit people before and after passing through the cancer maze; and lastly, the road to recovery plaques.

I was really touched and amazed at the thoughtfulness of the park and the effectiveness of its multiple messages to the public. How many lives has it saved, will it save, for years ahead with its wealth of common sense approach to dealing with a cancer diagnosis? What a phenomenal idea it is to create awareness.

The parks are meant to offer multiple messages: to relay a subconscious message to the public that cancer and death are not synonymous; to give the newly diagnosed, hope and courage; to those fighting it, direction and determination; and to those who have not had cancer, to reduce the fear of it.

Author Elizabeth Barker
Author Elizabeth Barker
Author Elizabeth Barker
Cancer Survivors Park with Author Elizabeth Barker