HUNTSVILLE, Ala. , Sept. 29, 2009 -- Three inspirational cancer survivors, joined by their families, friends and members of the Huntsville community, were honored today at the fall 2009 dedication of the Intergraph® Garden of Hope.
The fall dedication of the Garden of Hope honors three extraordinary women whose fights against cancer have been nothing short of remarkable: Linda Green, a grandmother whose breast cancer diagnosis inspired her to make a difference in the lives of others; Annalie Maynard, another grandmother who credits her faith and family with helping carry her through her battle with brain cancer; and Amy Scoggins, a mother whose positive attitude is helping her to beat breast cancer for the second time.
Since 2006, the Garden of Hope seasonal dedication, held twice a year at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, has served as a healing venue for those touched by cancer to convey their individual battles with cancer through the artistic and meaningful creation of personal gardens.
While empowering survivors to share their experiences with cancer through the symbolic planting of flowers, plants trees and shrubs, the Garden of Hope is also a means of raising awareness about the disease that the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates will claim the lives of more than half-a-million people this year.
"The fall 2009 Garden of Hope honorees have all shown tremendous determination and strength in their experiences with cancer, and their courage has inspired not only their families and friends, but the community at large,” said Halsey Wise, Intergraph chairman, president and chief executive officer. “It is my distinct privilege and honor for Intergraph to lead this event which gives the community the opportunity to say we choose to join together to fight this terrible disease."
Intergraph and the Huntsville Botanical Garden first collaborated three years ago to establish a spacious sanctuary where cancer survivors could express their emotions and celebrate life through the therapeutic planting of customized gardens. To represent their personal fights against the disease, each of the honorees is granted creative freedom in designing the garden space, planted with the help of family, friends and Intergraph volunteers. Since its inception, the Garden of Hope has served as a haven where survivors can unite in hope and stand in solidarity against the disease, making it an inspirational testament against cancer.
When Linda Green first noticed a lump in her breast at age 53, she was in disbelief. It was May 2004, not even one full year since her most recent annual mammogram. After consulting her doctor, Linda was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.
"I was completely shocked because I had been diligent about annual check-ups, and also because the lump was large enough for the doctor to recommend a mastectomy and chemotherapy," Linda explained. In June 2004, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy, and in August, began a five-month chemotherapy regimen. For Linda, her battle with breast cancer was surreal. "It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I could hear what the doctors were saying, but emotionally I needed to keep it at a distance in order to deal with it and make good decisions."
Linda attributes the support from her family, friends, community, and other cancer survivors to helping her cope with the disease. Her husband Randy and son Matt played a significant role in easing Linda’s anxiety about the cancer possibly returning. “My family was with me every step of the way, and has really helped me move forward.” She is also grateful for the high quality of medical care she received from Dr. Philip McGee at Clearview Cancer Institute and Dr. Charles Warren at the Clinic for Women.
Linda’s garden represents paying it forward by helping others, just as her community of cancer survivors helped her. It also represents her hope that all who experience cancer will feel the love, caring, and support that she felt surrounded her. Linda’s garden includes pansies for friendship, Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea for breast cancer patients, rosemary for remembrance, and bamboo and thyme representing the courage and strength she derived from others.
Linda, cancer-free for five years, would like her experience with breast cancer to convey a message of hope. “We can all help each other through these difficult times. My journey with cancer has taught me that everyone has to have hope.”
Upon waking every morning, Annalie Maynard does something she, a 62-year-old grandmother, never did before she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor in March 2008 – she takes some time to sit quietly, pray, and reflect on her life. Annalie had experienced persistent headaches before she consulted her doctor, who then recommended a CT scan indicating the glioblastoma was present in the back center portion of her brain. In April, 2008, Annalie underwent surgery, which successfully removed much of the tumor, and two months later, began radiation therapy. Throughout her journey with cancer, Annalie has found solace in her faith in God and has re-evaluated how she spends her days.
Annalie currently takes maintenance medication to ensure the cancer does not grow, and also regularly meets with a brain cancer support group. She continues to receive good reports from her doctors, a blessing she attributes to her trust in God and also the flood of encouragement and love she receives from her friends and family – husband Gordon, sons Todd and Brant, their very supportive wives, Brandy and Elesha and grandchildren Dakota, Gavin, and Sarah Grace.
Annalie, very active in her church and community, maintains that the interruption to her routine has been her biggest struggle in her fight against cancer. While she looks forward to regaining her energy, Annalie chooses not to dwell on the negative aspects of her experience. "When I get melancholy, anxious or frustrated, I stop and count my blessings and that puts things in perspective."
Annalie has decorated her garden with bright yellow and purple pansies, which she has always enjoyed for their bursts of color when everything else is lifeless. Annalie’s garden also features several types of herbs as well as acouple of statuaries that represent her hobbies, reading and bird watching.
A retired librarian and schoolteacher, Annalie is accustomed to teaching others. She hopes her cancer journey will help others see that God is faithful, especially during our hour of tribulation.
Amy Scoggins has always prided herself on her optimistic outlook on life, and when she was first diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer in April 2006, she tackled the disease with the same positive attitude. Upon her diagnosis with DCIS, the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer, Amy’s doctors recommended a double mastectomy, which she underwent in May 2006. After living without cancer for nearly three years to the day, Amy was re-diagnosed in 2009, and soon began a multitude of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
For Amy, the three surgeries she has endured since her diagnosis have been her biggest challenge in her fight against cancer. However, her upbeat attitude, coupled with the love and support of her husband Jimmy and three sons Brantley, Will, and Colton helped carry Amy through her struggle. "My family is what has kept me going," explained Amy. "I feel very, very lucky." She also relied on her close friends, whose love and encouragement was paramount in helping her cope with the disease.
Amy’s garden is a true representation of her attitude: bright and cheerful. She chose to adorn her garden with pink and white pansies, pink tulips, and a pink rose bush, as well as rosemary to symbolize remembrance. It is Amy’s hope that the “power of pink” will inspire women to trust their bodies and also to schedule regular mammograms.
Amy feels there is a reason why she was re-diagnosed, and hopes to inspire others to remain strong and optimistic through her touching story. "Why not live each day and just be positive?" asks Amy. "We can all sit and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can go out there do good things." Amy, who wholeheartedly believes a positive attitude is the key to a happy life, continues to live that sentiment every day.
For further information on the Intergraph Garden of Hope, please visit www.intergraphfoundation.org.
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About Huntsville Botanical Garden
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 120-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 7,000 member families and 2,600 volunteers, the Huntsville Botanical Garden is truly the community’s Garden.
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