Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Living Wall


The Living Wall at the John Theurer Cancer Center

A common theme among cancer surivors is that they appreciate the little things in life more. Post cancer, a rose smells sweeter, a child's laugh more memorable, an expensive steak dinner more savory, etc. etc. etc.

So if I'm supposed to be more attuned to the small pleasures in life, how in the heck did I miss the plants covering a wall in the four-story atrium of the cancer center where I receive treatment? If those fronds were carnivorous plants, I would be dead. Just like a fly oblivous to a venus fly trap.

According to the John Theurer Cancer Center's website, the wall is made up of "more than 30 plant species, all hydroponically growing without soil. Not only aesthetically beautiful, the wall breaks down indoor air contaminates through entirely natural processes, releasing purer, cleaner air. The acoustic poetry of a 24-foot waterfall in the middle of the Living Wall rounds out the sensory experience."

Although I received the daily Arsenic Trioxide treatments this past summer at a different location, I have walked through the arch beneath the Living Wall upwards of 20 times, yet I just noticed it at one of my last appointments. And I only noticed it because while weak from the chemo, I stopped to rest on a couch in the atrium before continuing down the hall.

The wall is beautiful, and now I am taking the time to appreciate it. It's the fourth largest in North America, and given the green movement, the art form will likely become a trend.

The only excuse I can make for missing it before is that my survivorship depends upon not what is growing from the wall above the arch, but what's contained within the rooms beyond it. Every time I walked through that arch, I was looking straight forward--not up-- towards the laboratory for my blood work, the consultation rooms, and the infusion suite for the chemo treatments. My sights were set on attaining complete remission. They still are. But once you notice a wall covered in vegetation, it's hard to ignore, especially when it's an opportunity to appreciate the beauty in life.

Hand blown glass birds in the atrium,
which yes, I did notice during my first visit