On April 27, Virginia Mason made cancer disappear. Five-foot tall letters made of ice spelled the disease, then slowly broke apart into icy rubble under blue sky at Seattle’s Westlake Center. Part of the “See What’s Happening to Cancer” campaign, Virginia Mason physicians and health care experts were near the sculpture to provide information on cancer prevention and screening.
We asked Virginia Mason team member and breast cancer survivor Lauren Lindeman to talk about how she experienced the event.
How was this event personal to you?
In January I was diagnosed with very early stage breast cancer. The early detection made possible by 3D mammography meant I could undergo a lumpectomy, have radiation just once during the surgery, and not need chemotherapy at all! Even though we’ve all heard the words “early detection” like a mantra, it’s finally real for me. It may take some time and persistence, but cancer can be defeated! I loved how the ice sculpture symbolized that in such a tangible and visual way.
What did it mean to you as a Virginia Mason team member?
Many members of our leadership team made a special trip down to see and support this amazing concept that cancer can and will be overcome. Throughout the day, team members from all areas and job descriptions used their breaks to come see the sculpture. It gave me a true sense of pride in our Virginia Mason family and reflected the commitment we all feel in our role as ambassadors for the patients.
How did it feel to be at the sculpture site?
Joy and excitement within myself and also from the crowd! Who knew it could be so exciting to watch the letter E disintegrate or see a chunk of a C crash loudly to the ground, or better yet, watch a survivor pose for a picture where she was “kicking cancer?”
What did you see and hear from others?
Throughout the day, people shared incredible stories of their own battles with cancer. Either they had been touched by cancer personally or experienced it with loved ones. Those who had lost loved ones to cancer were especially supportive of our efforts. Everyone wants to rally together in this fight, and that was truly amazing to see.
After hearing my story, several women admitted that they were way overdue for a mammogram, and committed to get in right away!
There was a beautiful little girl who was trying to melt a fallen chunk of the letter C with her tiny hands. An 80-year-old man shared his story of beating prostate cancer and being able to visit his children in Seattle.
Then there was the roar of the crowd every time another letter bit the dust!
See CANCER have a meltdown in just 25 seconds.