I was walking through the Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park. I could have been in any of the 25 North American cities which have Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Parks. Each park has the same themes and sculptures.
"There are three factors present in each Park. First is a positive mental attitude walk with 14 bronze plaques, four inspirational and 10 instructional. Second is a sculpture of eight life-size bronze figures passing through a maze representing cancer treatment. The five before the maze show fear, hope and determination in their faces while the three after are laughing and happy, representing successful treatment. Third is a “Road to Recovery” consisting of seven plaques explaining what cancer is and basic actions to successfully overcome the disease." [Source.]But the snow kept me firmly rooted in Minneapolis.
The parks are privately owned and maintained, but they are open to the public. Richard Bloch was the "R" in H&R Block, the tax preparation services company. He lived with cancer for many years; these parks reflect his philosophy and wealth.
The entrance path zigs and zags past 14 bronze plaques.
|The park would not speak to me today.|
Earlier that morning, I had failed the Richard & Annette Bloch Family Foundation's attitude quiz so I confess I was walking through this park with attitude. I don't need platitudes or truisms. I'm more than OK: life is good, I try to live in the present and am naturally an optimist. I'm grateful for each day.
I wanted to walk up to the "sculpture of eight life-size bronze figures passing through a maze representing cancer treatment" but the snow was too deep. The journey depicted in this sculpture is not my journey. A trio emerges from successful treatment with no further mazes ahead.
This is not me, and I'm OK with that. It was time to head back into the bright sunshine.
The Attitude Quiz
The authors of the Richard & Annette Bloch Family Foundation's attitude quiz explain it "is not scientifically proven accurate. It is strictly a personal opinion after talking with many cancer patients as well as professionals." It sure sounds important, though.
I provided true, false, or unsure responses to the 23 statements. I got a score of 19 out of 23; I had failed the test.
|What I hear: "...[I] should consider help."|
"Should" is a word that invites stress; it's a word I try to avoid using.
I revisited the four statements that led to failing the test. (In each case a red X denotes my answer.)
"I began treatment less than 30 days after I was diagnosed" (My answer: False.)
|What I hear: "[I am] not recognizing the critical nature of cancer."|
I own my cancer, my cancer does not own me.
"If I had a trip ... planned, I would postpone a doctor's appointment or treatment" (My answer: True.)
|What I hear: "[I] do not want to give it [my] best shot."|
"I believe the treatment I am receiving will successfully treat me" (My answer: Unsure.)
|What I hear: "[I am] probably taking the lazy way out... ."|
The two treatments are not cures. They can put some or all of the tumor in my body "to sleep" for a period of time. The graph shows that Abiraterone improves the survival odds for a group of patients with similarities to my cancer and my treatment history.
A statistical analysis shows I can improve my odds, but it is magical thinking to believe the treatments are sure to work in my case. I choose to be optimistic, but I have the mind of an engineer, not an accountant.
The fourth question I answered "incorrectly" was particularly troubling.
"There are certain treatments I would refuse even if the doctor said it was necessary." (My answer: True.)
|What I hear: "[I] definitely won't give recovery [my] best effort."|
"Aggressive life-prolonging care comes at a cost, however, in terms of both dollars and human suffering. Medicare, the government’s health plan for the elderly, spends about one-third of its budget on people who are in the last year of life, and much of that on patients at the very end of life.
Aggressive end-of-life care can lead to a more painful process of dying, researchers have found, and greater shock and grief for the family members left behind."