In 2008, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation began construction on the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park. Located on 4.5 acres at the busy intersections of Alta Vista Dr., Industrial Ave., and Riverside Dr., Ottawa’s Cancer Survivors Park is the second of its kind in Canada and offers a place of serenity and inspiration to cancer patients and survivors, their friends and families.
There are currently a number of Cancer Survivors parks throughout North America. While each park is unique, they contain three common elements:
- A sculpture called “Cancer: There is Hope” created by the renowned Mexican sculptor, Victor Salmones. The piece features eight life-size figures passing through a maze depicting cancer treatments and success;
- A “Positive Mental Attitude Walk”. This is an area that visitors can stroll through, meditate and read through 14 plaques which feature inspiration words and suggestions inspired by Richard Bloch; and
- A “Road to Recovery” with seven plaques explaining what cancer is and basic actions to assist in recovery.
Within the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park in Ottawa you will find the Mary Eagan Healing Garden. This garden was donated by Terry Eagan, himself a cancer survivor, in memory of his wife Mary who lost her battle with cancer. The Healing Garden features a fountain that runs off into stones – these are the Stones of Hope.
When the Cancer Foundation first broke ground on the Cancer Survivors Park, we invited media to witness the occasion. A local broadcaster, Gord McDougall from CFRA News, was assigned to cover the Opening and did so with a heavy heart. He had received word, just a few days prior, that his long-time friend had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. As a result, the day’s activity and the description of what the Park would represent hit close to home for Gord. He took some time to wander the grounds, considering what lay ahead for his friend.
During his walkabout and inspired by the hope the Park would project once completed, Gord picked up four stones from among those on the Park grounds. He gave one to each of his circle of childhood friends, including his dear friend who was dealing with her diagnosis, and kept one for himself. He told them where they’d come from and how they were meant as a symbol of hope and for his friend, something tangible that told her they were always with her. They vowed to visit the Park together to return the stones once their friend was cancer-free.
Several months later, as The Cancer Foundation prepared for the official opening of the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park, Linda Eagen received a call from Gord. He shared his story with her and told her, with glee in his voice, that it was time for the four of them to return their stones. His friend is a survivor.
So moved by this story and the hope these four stones brought to this group of friends, the Cancer Foundation decided that this same hope had to be available to anyone who needed and could share it.
Today, when you visit The Cancer Survivors Park you will see the Hope Stones at the base of The Mary Eagan Healing Garden. Visitors are invited to take one of these polished stones – for themselves or to share with a loved one – so that a piece of the Park can inspire hope during their Cancer Journey. There is only one catch – you must also return the Stone when it has served its purpose so that someone else can take it through their journey.