Cancer Survivors Park Officially Opened

October 12, 2008 Updated: October 13, 2008
Ribbon cutting at the opening ceremony for Ottawa's Cancer Survivors Park (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Ribbon cutting at the opening ceremony for Ottawa's Cancer Survivors Park (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The intersection of Alta Vista Drive, Industrial Ave, and Riverside Drive is a lot more beautiful now that the 24th Cancer Survivors Park is located there.

In a touching ceremony, the park officially opened on 24 September, the day proclaimed as National Cancer Survivors Day in Ottawa. Worldwide Cancer Survivors Day is the first Sunday of June.

Charles Merovitz, Honorary Chair of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the person who initiated the process of building a Cancer Survivors Park in the city, said the park is the joint effort of many people, volunteers, and donors.

As well as the architects of the park and representatives from the R&A Bloch Cancer Foundation such as Vangie Rich, executive director of the foundation, many cancer survivors attended the opening event along with relatives, friends, and supporters.

The cancer survivor’s parks, which can be found in many countries, are the realization of Richard and Annette Bloch’s dream of giving hope to people with cancer. Each park reminds us that “there is truly life after a diagnosis of cancer,” says Mrs. Bloch.

Mr. Terry Eagen sits beside the fountain dedicated to his late wife Mary Eagen (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Mr. Terry Eagen sits beside the fountain dedicated to his late wife Mary Eagen (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Richard Bloch himself was diagnosed with lung cancer and overcame the illness. He and Annette founded the R&A Bloch Cancer Foundation, dedicated to helping patients and those around them deal with the disease.

Within the park there is a beautiful garden formed in a circular pattern, and an inner path flanked by rectangular stone walls at both entrances to the park. A series of plaques line two pathways and offer information as well as inspirational and educational phrases in English and French.

Here one can find the Healing Garden or The Mary Eagan Garden — named after the deceased wife of Terry Eagan, the fundraiser for this circular section of the park and a cancer survivor himself. This beautiful corner has a fountain falling on river stones, called “hope stones” since they are to be taken home by those suffering from cancer and returned when their struggle has been successful.

Mr. Eagan explained that this cosy spot is a place where one can take a deep breath, relax, and rest. The entire park exudes a peaceful atmosphere, enhanced by the sculptures Cancer … There is Hope by Victor Salmones and Shine by Michael Vandermeer and Cheryl Hamilton. The landscape of the park was designed by Steve Sunderland and Gregg Souliere, also a cancer survivor.

The foundation provides free books that support, inspire, and inform people who are fighting cancer.

Cancer survivor Rebecca Howe taking a 'hope stone' from The Mary Eagan Garden  (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Cancer survivor Rebecca Howe taking a 'hope stone' from The Mary Eagan Garden (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Besides the literature there is also a cancer hot line that gives free information and assistance to anyone who calls. Another item is PDQ, a computerized program that provides those who dial 1-800-4CANCER with information about their particular cancer and the stage the cancer is in.

Mrs. Bloch feels that the sheer will to overcome cancer may not be enough, and that information is also essential. After people obtain the information they “can decide if what their doctors have suggested is the right treatment,” says Mrs. Bloch.

As well as inspirational messages, the plaques in the park provide information such as the phone number of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, a toll-free information line, and the Internet address of the Bloch organization. www.BlochCancer.org

Unfortunately Annette Bloch was unable to attend the opening ceremony since she has been recently diagnosed with cancer.

The appreciation of volunteers and others for having such a park in the midst of the community was obvious — their faces beamed and their smiles were broad. They are aware that cancer can be beaten and they feel supported and encouraged to overcome their illness, and to give a hand to those who need it.