By HOLLY O’KEEFE
It was a cool day in October when they were planted. Now, the Gardens of Hope have blossomed in time for Mother’s Day.
Pink tulip bulbs were planted last fall by people affected by breast cancer: husbands, children, college students and survivors. The tulip gardens at five Utah County hospitals are living memorials of women who have courageously fought the battle of breast cancer.
“We wanted to increase awareness of breast cancer,” said Tara Avena, program director at the Central Utah American Cancer Society. “Early detection is so important in the battle against this disease.”
In each Garden of Hope, a plaque was placed in honor of women. Avena compared the experience of the tulip bulbs to women who survive breast cancer.
“The tulips were in the ground all winter, cold and dormant. This spring, they bloomed and became beautiful,” said Avena.
Mindy Maiben drives past the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center daily. Maiben, 23, a senior from Barrington, Ill., majoring in elementary education, said she sees the pink tulips as a sign of hope.
“I was really good friends with a teacher in high school that was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to have a mastectomy and was sick for almost a year, but she survived and is teaching again,” Maiben said. “The tulips have reminded me to be aware of breast cancer.”
The Gardens of Hope also inspire survivors. Marleen Jones was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. Jones, a resident of Hoffman Estates, Ill., saw the pink tulips while she was in Provo for Women’s Conference.
“I have four daughters, three sons-in-law, three grandchildren, and a wonderful husband. Each Mother’s Day that I am still cancer-free, I am thankful,” Jones said. “I am thankful to still be here with my family.”
This Mother’s Day the pink tulips are a reminder of the women that have fought breast cancer. According to an ACS pamplet printed this year, in Utah alone, an estimated 800 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Of these, 200 will die.
“We knew the tulips would bloom before Mother’s Day. We wanted the Gardens of Hope to remind mothers and daughters that early detection is the key to fighting breast cancer,” Avena said. “Eat healthy food and make sure you get the necessary breast exams.”