For the first time in three years, cancer patients, survivors, families, friends, caregivers, clinicians, faculty, and staff joined together at the Duke Cancer Center and adjacent Seese-Thornton Garden of Tranquility for the annual Tree of Hope Ceremony, held Dec. 2.
About 200 people attended the event in person and more than 400 attended virtually.
A special program inside Duke Cancer Center — during which cancer support leaders and providers shared their experiences as DCI employees in service to cancer patients, and as cancer survivors shared their experiences as DCI patients — was followed by the traditional lighting of candles and a procession outside to the tree. There, attendees were greeted by an interlude of joyous music from the Duke University Chorale.
Alexa Balthazar, leukemia and stem cell transplant survivor, stated:
I also encourage young adults, if they're thinking of potentially starting a family someday to look into fertility preservation, I worked with Duke's fertility oncology program to actually preserve embryos. So we were lucky enough that we have some embryos on ice right now. So someday we could start a family if we'd like.