Offering patients a place of solace

Friday, October 08, 2010 - Offering patients a place of solace

JOPLIN, Mo.—The creation of a Reflection Garden is hoped to bring about moments of peace and tranquility for patients of Freeman Cancer Institute.

Located on the east side of the main entrance to Freeman Cancer Institute, the Reflection Garden is situated around a ribbon-shaped water feature complimented by beautiful landscaping and peaceful sitting areas. The engraved stones that make up the 20-foot by 40-foot water feature bear the names of cancer survivors and those who lost their battle to the disease, as well as supporters of Freeman Cancer Institute. A path of walking stones leads from the infusion center to the garden.

Dedicated during a ceremony on October 8, the space is intended to present a quiet, serene moment to chemotherapy patients and their loved ones.

“From the minute they come through our front doors, we want to provide our patients with the calm and the compassion they deserve,” said Della Castillo, Freeman Cancer Institute Director. “Those who live with cancer, whether as a patient or a loved one, need some peace in the midst of the storm.” 

Castillo understands the significance of such peace all too well; Castillo spent many hours at her daughter’s side while she battled kidney cancer. Tonya Spencer, Castillo’s daughter, was diagnosed with the disease while she was pregnant with her son. She passed away three-years-later at the age of 25.

“There were moments while Tonya was undergoing chemotherapy that I needed a minute just to lose myself,” she said.

Spencer’s name is among those carved into the natural pink stones throughout the garden. Supporters of Freeman Cancer Institute, patients, and their families purchased the stones as a fundraiser for the project.

During the dedication, Castillo praised the creative talents of Mary Grissom of InSide-Out Designs, who not only designed the Reflection Garden but donated the labor for its construction.

“Our goal was to provide an area outside that had the soothing element of water but also served allows a person to shut out the world for just that moment in time,” Castillo said. “I believe we have accomplished our desire to provide a place to reflect on positive thoughts.”

Following the dedication of the Reflection Garden, Freeman Health System continued its acknowledgement of breast cancer awareness by hosting the “I Wear Pink for My Coworkers”  Breast Cancer Awareness Parade.  More than 150 Freeman employees dressed in pink marched down McIntosh Circle Drive. 

The purpose of the parade, held for the second consecutive year, was to honor those who have been diagnosed with the disease and support its continued research, said Linda Conrow, Freeman Senior Marketing Specialist who coordinated the event.

“The wonderful thing about the parade is that it enables both men and women to participate in an activity that promotes awareness,” said Conrow.  “So many breast cancer awareness events are geared toward women. The parade gives a voice to both men and women to show their support.”

About Freeman Health System
Not-for-profit, community-owned, and locally governed, Freeman Health System is a 404-bed, three-hospital system. Based in Joplin, the fourth largest metropolitan area in Missouri, Freeman provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services to an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. For more information, visit or

For media inquiries, please contact Freeman Media Coordinator.