A Mother and her Two Daughters

17 December 2010

The Seed of Hope

It was over 2,000 years ago when Plato claimed a direct correlation between the mind, the body and one’s health: "The cure of many diseases is unknown to physicians because they are ignorant of the whole. For the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” 

Every survivor forever remembers the life-changing news – “You have cancer.”  When the words are uttered, it is an overwhelming crash of emotions – fear, anxiety, hopelessness, worry and so many unanswered questions.    

The biology of cancer is often beyond our control. However, many physicians are convinced that patients with positive attitudes and a fighting spirit are better able to cope with disease-related problems and may respond better to therapy.  Oncologists and other physicians that treat life-threatening diseases have oftentimes shared stories of two patients of similar age and with the same diagnosis and treatment program who experience vastly different results. The major difference – one patient was pessimistic and the other optimistic.

The questions then become:  What is it that helps a patient approach their disease in an aggressive fighting posture, where they no longer see themselves as a helpless victim?  How do you help patients become active partners with their medical support team in the fight for successful treatment, disease improvement, remission or cure?

In the end, the goal is to nurture an increased ability to cope that nurtures the will to live.  It’s called HOPE. 

Hope is the mental state that motivates us to keep on living, to explore and dream and continue to accomplish things and succeed.  With hope, a positive outlook can be maintained, determination strengthened, coping skills sharpened, and love and support more freely given and received.

When we possess the true spirit of hope, we then know that while we may not be able to control the surf, we can learn how to best ride the waves. 


People living with cancer experience many different milestones – completion of various treatments, successful surgeries and more.  And when the protocol is complete, many survivors feel a strong desire to celebrate the accomplishment.  Woohoo – I’ve made it! 

So can I take a moment to laud my cancer treatment center?  UAMS is doing so much to give cancer patients that sense of hope. 

Inside the atrium at Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute, visitors will see The Seed of Hope sculpture.  It has already become a place of significance for UAMS cancer patients.  Not only is it a beautiful work of art, it’s also a symbol of hope. 

On your final day of active treatment, UAMS celebrates this milestone with each patient and their family.   Two seed-shaped tokens are presented to each survivor - one token is tossed into the vessel-like sculpture as a celebration of survivorship; the second token is kept as a reminder of your successful battle against cancer.  What a lovely way to celebrate endurance, to honor the gift of hope. 

And this week, UAMS launched a new web site – The Seed of Hope.  This site is a culmination of hopeful stories by strong cancer survivors treated at UAMS. 

Be warned, there are some tear-jerking stories found here.  I was especially moved by the story of Emily and Fuller Ingram.  Emily was diagnosed this past April with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  At the time she was twenty weeks pregnant and was told by her oncologist that she would likely have to terminate the pregnancy.  Emily sought a second opinion at UAMS.  On September 14th, after seven chemotherapy treatments, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and on November 19th, Emily received her final treatment and celebrated her remission by tossing her own Seed of Hope into the sculpture. 

Then there is the story of Deb Darley, a multiple myeloma survivor from Georgia.  In March of this year, Deb’s physician told her that she wouldn’t live past July, and was encouraged to seek Hospice services.  Instead, she came to UAMS, and in September tossed her token into the sculpture.  After a second stem cell transplant, she has no measureable cancer in her body. 

If you need a lift, a story of hope, this UAMS web site is tremendous.  I’m sharing with you, and you can share with others who might need a bit of courage, the will to survive, a semblance of hope. 

Keep on fighting the good fight!  There is hope! 


Click here for the Seed of Hope Web site:

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