HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 29, 2010 – Today a mother who recently lost her battle with ovarian cancer, a grandfather affected by prostate cancer and a mother fighting breast cancer, joined by their families, friends and members of the Huntsville community, were honored at the fall 2010 dedication of the Intergraph® Garden of Hope. The event, a touching display of courage, coincided with September’s National Ovarian Cancer Month and National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, as well as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which begins in October.
The fall 2010 Garden of Hope honored Teresa Arce, a mother of five whose spirit and faith carried her through her fight with ovarian cancer; Ken Kavanaugh, a grandfather who refused to let prostate cancer affect his optimistic life outlook; and Terry Lewis, whose continuous search for the positive helped her during her battle against breast cancer.
Intergraph and the Huntsville Botanical Garden have partnered on the Garden of Hope since 2006 to provide an artistic and meaningful refuge that allows cancer survivors to convey their personal fights against the disease that the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates claims the lives of roughly 20,000 people around the world every day. The three honorees each created a garden that expresses their hopes, dreams and experiences in a therapeutic way.
“For the three honorees recognized today, these peaceful gardens of beautiful flowers, trees, plants and shrubs are symbols of strength and determination, and they are also reminders for all of us of how precious life is,” said Intergraph Chairman, President and CEO Halsey Wise, who led the dedication. “The Garden of Hope is a singularly moving experience because it is a result of the emotional inspiration that the brave honorees have lent to their individual plantings that is now for us to share. Hope is alive and in plain sight at the Garden of Hope.”
Held in both the spring and fall of each year, the Garden of Hope grants the honorees, along with their families and friends, the creative freedom to portray their personal struggles against cancer with the help of Intergraph volunteers while also providing a means of raising community awareness about the disease.
Fall 2010 Intergraph Garden of Hope Honorees:
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Teresa Arce came to America in 2006 to start a new life and be closer to her children and grandchildren. Little did she know her life was about to change even more drastically than she could have ever imagined. On December 30, 2008, Teresa was visiting her son in Savannah, Georgia, when she received the devastating news from her doctor … she had Stage IV ovarian cancer. She was immediately rushed to the hospital where she underwent an emergency partial hysterectomy. Despite the surgery, her prognosis remained bleak. Teresa’s doctors estimated she had six months to live without chemotherapy, and one year with treatment.
Teresa, however, had other plans. For 19 months after her diagnosis she fought hard against cancer every day. Her journey was a difficult one, involving hair loss, pain, and two more surgeries. After making several trips back and forth to Savannah for treatment, she received care in Huntsville.
Although Teresa’s cancer was aggressive, so was her spirit. She kept herself busy as much as possible, and when she was able, she studied English, knitted, and faithfully attended Bible study and church. Teresa’s children – Jorge and Frescia in the U.S., and Juan Jose, Enrique, and Katherine in Peru – remained steadfastly supportive, helping her conquer this terrible disease.
For her garden, Teresa chose a brilliant swath of red and white snapdragons in the shape of the Peruvian flag to represent her heritage. In the center is a large teal pot filled with thyme, signifying her courage, and rosemary for remembrance. Alliums, tulips, mums, and hyacinths also add fragrance and color to Teresa’s garden.
Teresa’s words of advice to others facing a similar challenge are simple, yet powerful. “Never lose your faith in God. He is always with you. Try to learn and grow from every experience in life, even the difficult ones.”
When Ken Kavanaugh was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in May 2008, he was no stranger to the disease. He had already undergone multiple biopsies spanning a six-year period, and had even helped his wife of more than 40 years, Pat, battle breast cancer after receiving her diagnosis a few years earlier, as well as his father who had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
To fight his cancer, Ken elected to receive radiation treatments five days a week for eight and a half weeks. Not one to back down, Ken worked throughout his therapy, scheduling treatments for early in the morning so he could minimize his time away from work. While he maintained a positive attitude throughout his experience, Ken acknowledges he faced challenges. “My emotions were all over the place during the radiation treatments,” said Ken. “I just wasn’t as patient as I normally am, and had to deal with some anger issues.”
Always by his side, Pat, the couple’s two daughters, Julie and Rebecca, and grandson Aaron were loving sources of inspiration for Ken during his cancer journey. “Pat recognized what was going on and did little things to support me,” said Ken. “I would come downstairs in the morning and sometimes there would be a card, just to cheer me up. She would let me ramble about how I felt, and would just listen.” Today, both Ken and Pat’s cancers are in remission.
Ever the devoted husband, Ken chose to adorn his garden with pinkish matrix primrose pansies in honor of Pat, as well as other breast cancer survivors. He also selected matrix light blue and white pansies to decorate his garden, which he hopes will inspire those who visit it to persevere in the face of adversity. “There’s so much negativity in the world,” explained Ken. “We all need to have more hope – more hope for the future, and more hope for ourselves.”
Terry Lewis is known for her positive outlook on life. This character trait proved even more invaluable to her this past year, as she began her battle against breast cancer.
In November 2009, Terry went in for a routine mammogram. The radiologist felt like something wasn’t right and ordered a follow-up needle biopsy. The results were a shock to everyone, including Terry. A subsequent lumpectomy in January 2010 confirmed the worst – Terry had breast cancer. After consulting with her family and doctors, Terry decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy in early February. During surgery, her doctors found a malignancy in one of her lymph nodes, which put her at Stage IIA, requiring chemotherapy treatments to ensure all cancer was eradicated from her body.
Terry’s chemo treatments began the end of March 2010, and continued for 18 weeks. The side effects weren’t pleasant – fatigue, weakness, and loss of hair, fingernails and taste – but still Terry’s outlook remained optimistic. “A positive attitude makes all the difference,” said Terry. “I never thought of myself as a victim. It’s easier said than done, but being negative doesn’t make anything better.”
Herb, Terry’s husband, is always by her side and provides constant inspiration and support. They both love to travel and even managed to enjoy a cruise on the Baltic Sea only two days after her last chemo treatment. Terry also credits her two sons – Brian, with wife, Leigh, and Barry – plus her large support group of friends and family (especially her church family) for really reaching out to her during this time. Her life was deeply touched by people through her CaringBridge website, which was a great source of communication and encouragement.
For her garden, Terry chose a blaze of blue pansies symbolizing her own “sea of tranquility” like a garden represents. Intermixed with the pansies are pink tulips, emphasizing the fight against breast cancer. All are framed by beautiful white snapdragons.
Terry has recently undergone reconstructive surgery and is doing well. When asked what advice she’d like to give others going through a similar situation, she confidently states, “Always look for the positive, knowing you can confront this ‘bump in the road’ and move beyond it.”
For more information about the 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 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 7,000 member families and 1,500 volunteers, the Huntsville Botanical Garden is truly the community's Garden.
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