Cancer patients and survivor honorees dedicated their fall plantings at the Intergraph Garden of Hope at the Huntsville Botanical Garden today. A unique exhibit and symbol of hope and determination against cancer, the Garden of Hope is a serene place where cancer patients and their families have the opportunity to express themselves through the creation of colorful and artistic plantings.
“Cancer continues to touch too many of us in the community,” said Intergraph President and CEO Halsey Wise, who led the dedication. “Through the Garden of Hope, Intergraph seeks to provide a place of inspiration for today’s honorees, their families and all who visit this special place. Each of our honorees provides an example of tremendous courage and a true zeal for life. We at Intergraph are pleased to be associated with such incredible people”
Intergraph approached the Huntsville Botanical Garden with the concept to underwrite, create, manage and partner on the Garden of Hope in 2006, which not only benefits cancer patients and their families, but will also provide added awareness and support throughout the community.
Each year, the Garden of Hope has two separate, seasonal plantings: one in the spring and one in the fall. At each seasonal planting, three local cancer patients and/or their families are given their own large garden area to plant assisted by Intergraph employee volunteers. The patient and family are given complete freedom to design their garden using their choice of flowers, plants, trees and shrubs. Each patient’s imagination and individual battle with cancer provide the foundation for this garden that makes it a singularly moving and motivational place.
Fall 2007 Intergraph Garden of Hope Honorees:
In March 2007, Rick Johnson began feeling an odd sensation in the back of his throat. He at first dismissed it as nothing serious, but after noticing some sort of mass on his tongue in the mirror, he quickly made an appointment with his doctor. Less than a month later, Rick and his family received an unexpected blow – he had tongue cancer – a very rare type, especially for non-smokers.
Because the mass on his tongue was growing rapidly, Rick’s doctors immediately had him undergo a combination of radiation and chemotherapy for seven weeks. The biggest challenge, however, was the location of the cancer and its resulting side effects. The mass proved quite troublesome, requiring Rick to have a feeding tube and even a tracheotomy prior to his cancer treatments.
Today, Rick is cancer-free, and is now focusing on rebuilding his strength and stamina. He jokingly advises others that if they ever get sick, make sure they’re married first. He credits his wife, Tiffany, as being his greatest strength and inspiration during this difficult time. Also standing firm by his side were his two sons, Parker, age nine, and Seth, age six.
For his garden, Rick chose a bright swath of yellow flowers, symbolizing the Lance Armstrong “Live Strong” bracelet his son Parker wore even before he received his diagnosis. Also featured in his garden is a single decorative tree in honor of his mother, Patricia Waldon, who he lost to cervical cancer.
Rick hopes his experience will help others realize that cancer is not the death sentence it once was. You can be diagnosed, receive treatments, and come out at the end cancer-free. After all, he’s living proof.
In March 2007, Rhondalyn Acklin, 16, noticed an enlarged lymph node. Concerned about their daughter’s health, Rhondalyn’s parents made an appointment with the doctor. He recommended surgery, and before long, Rhondalyn had the node removed. Biopsy results revealed startling news – Rhondalyn had Hodgkin’s disease, or cancer of the lymph nodes.
The diagnosis was followed by 12 weeks of chemotherapy at St. Jude’s in Huntsville and every four weeks at its main facility in Memphis. Chemotherapy was followed by two weeks of radiation. As Rhondalyn lost clumps of hair, she didn’t get upset – she saw it as a sign the treatments were working and simply shaved her head. “It’s just hair – it will grow back,” she says.
A cheerful and fun-loving student at Oakwood Academy, Rhondalyn hasn’t let cancer keep her down. Although she struggled with having to miss weeks of school, she kept up with her studies and passed all her finals. She is grateful for her family, friends, teachers, and schoolmates, who supported her with prayers, visits, phone calls, and cards.
Now that she is back in school, Rhondalyn has returned to activities she loves. She is completing her requirements as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant, and has resumed her duties as secretary for both her class and her school. She also sings in the Oakwood Academy choir, is on the school Step team, and works at the skating rink!
Rhondalyn is excited about her garden, and says she has always wanted to plant one. It stands as a reminder of the strength she found through her faith in God. She and her parents hope her experience will strengthen others’ faith as well.
In August 2006, a severe headache sent Meg Ingram, now 21, to the hospital emergency room. Scans revealed a brain tumor, and two days later Meg was in surgery. Within two weeks, she began a long course of chemotherapy and radiation. Then last July, the appearance of a second primary tumor required a switch to more aggressive chemotherapy, which she is currently undergoing.
Despite her trials, Meg’s optimism and determination are immediately apparent. Strengthened by the love of her family and her faith, and inspired by her father’s positive attitude during his two battles with cancer, Meg wakes up each morning and chooses to enjoy her life to the fullest.
According to Meg’s mother, H.J., Meg has not allowed herself a single negative day, and barely a negative moment. Instead, she focuses on her many blessings. “I have cancer, but it doesn’t have me,” she announced early on.
Meg’s amazing attitude has enabled her to keep up with her nursing studies at the University of Alabama, and even with the cheerleading she loves. In fact, she cheered with her squad on the football field just three weeks after her surgery, and by the end of the season, she was stunting!
Meg’s garden expresses different aspects of herself, and stands as a colorful reminder of the joy with which she lives every day. She wants others to know that, like her, they can get through anything.
Intergraph Corporation is the leading global provider of spatial information management (SIM) software. Security organizations, businesses and governments in more than 60 countries rely on the company’s spatial technology and services to make better and faster operational decisions. Intergraph’s customers organize vast amounts of complex data into understandable visual representations, creating intelligent maps, managing assets, building and operating better plants and ships and protecting critical infrastructure and millions of people around the world. For more information, visit www.intergraph.com.
Huntsville Botanical Garden is open year-round and features a magnificent 110-year-old dogwood, picture perfect aquatic garden, a spectacular wildflower and nature trail, and numerous specialty gardens and plant collections. The 112-acre Garden is a privately operated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization garden which receives a majority of its support from Garden members, supporters and corporate donors. With over 7,200 member families and 1,500 volunteers, the Huntsville Botanical Garden is truly the community’s Garden.
© 2006 Intergraph Corporation. All rights reserved. Intergraph and the Intergraph logo are registered trademarks of Intergraph Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and in other countries. Other brands and product names are trademarks of their respective owners.