News from Illinois CancerCare

Illinois CancerCare Foundation Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Beautiful Tribute Garden

When you or a loved one receive a referral to Illinois CancerCare, it’s the start of a journey filled with many emotions. In the days leading up to your appointment, you may experience fear, confusion and anxiety. When you walk through the doors of our clinics, you will experience another more powerful emotion – HOPE.

Our patients and their families come to us for answers, direction and treatment. However, they quickly discover that we provide them with so much more than just medical care as we walk beside them throughout their cancer journey.

We never lose sight of the fact that caring for our patients is about more than just treating a disease. Instead, we focus on each individual and their unique needs by developing heartfelt relationships with our patients who become part of our Illinois CancerCare family. Together, we deliver the best care possible – in every way we can – keeping ‘patients-first’ at the heart of our mission.

Celebrating 20 Years of Ensuring No One Fights Alone

In partnership with all 15 Illinois CancerCare clinics, the Illinois CancerCare Foundation was formed 20 years ago to provide patients with an extra layer of support and services to reduce the stress of cancer treatment. In addition, we work to fund education, cancer research and cutting-edge clinical trials in which patients can participate right here in Illinois. These trials increase the number of options we can offer patients so we can combat cancer with the most innovative and effective treatments.

Now, in recognition of that 20-year milestone and our commitment to total patient care, we’ve broken ground on our first Tribute Garden at our Peoria location. Covering more than 10,000 square feet, the PATH of hope Tribute Garden is located to the west of the main clinic and will offer a serene setting to reflect, relax and recharge. Our PATH of hope offers unique opportunities to honor those who have battled or are battling cancer and those who have inspired us in meaningful ways. This healing sanctuary will provide patients, caregivers, staff and visitors a place of peace, comfort, strength and hope.

The PATH of hope Tribute Garden represents the journey a cancer patient and their family takes, along with the Foundation’s promise to be with you every step of the way. As the carefully-chosen plants in the garden grow and flourish, it’s a reminder of each new day that the Illinois CancerCare team gives patients as they deliver the most lifesaving treatments, cutting-edge research and supportive patient services needed for healing.

One of the most powerful pieces in the Tribute Garden will be the Celebration Circle – featuring a Survivor Bell that patients can ring to recognize milestones throughout their cancer journey. In recognition of the magnitude of the physicians’ efforts to help their patients take steps toward achieving these milestones, the Illinois CancerCare employee activity committee funded the engraved brass bell in honor of National Doctors’ Day. As patients commemorate meaningful moments along their cancer journey, the sound of the bell will ring out as a reminder of the partnership between physicians and their patients as they boldly fight cancer together.

Currently in its first phase, the garden in Peoria has really taken shape with all services provided by local organizations. Starting near the front entrance, engravable paver bricks are beginning to replace the white rock of the cancer ribbon walking path. In addition to the paved ribbon-shaped path, the Celebration Circle will also feature engravable pavers that can be donated in honor of a loved one.

Finding peace in the garden

The Tribute Garden will be a wonderful place for patients to enjoy while waiting to see their provider. It will also be a great place for family and caregivers to go while their loved one is receiving treatment – especially since current COVID guidelines restrict visitor access.

In the next phase, the garden will extend around the building to be seen by all treatment areas. Our patients already enjoy a great view of the lake behind our Illinois CancerCare Peoria clinic – this garden will enhance their peaceful view! The HOPE is to deliver inspiration and a calming effect to our patients while receiving treatment, as well as a sense of closeness to their loved ones as they enjoy the garden.

Recognizing that many patients or their caregivers may not have enough energy to walk very far – or they may simply want to be still – the garden will also include five vignette nooks nestled throughout. These cozy spaces will be private and serene, giving people the opportunity to reflect or just enjoy the solitude. Connecting with nature and finding time to pray or meditate can bring down your stress levels and help redirect your thoughts to a peaceful place.

We have also started to create a serene seating area near the front entrance of the building. This will be a lovely place for patients to rest and enjoy the sounds of a relaxing three-tiered water structure, especially those who don’t have the energy to take the path to the Tribute Garden.

Just the Beginning

In addition to the work already being done in Peoria, we have plans to eventually bring gardens to many of our clinic locations. The Peoria Clinic Tribute Garden has been a vision of Illinois CancerCare Foundation for many years with a goal of helping patients and their loved ones during a difficult time in their lives. It has been very exciting to see all of the fundraising and planning efforts come together to celebrate the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary!

Our outdoor sanctuary will be filled with engravable pavers and benches, flowers, trees and other plants representing the seasons of cancer treatment and reflecting the beauty of each new moment. We are extremely grateful to our garden partners who make it possible to care for our patients with the healing power of nature.

This is a unique opportunity to honor the people you love, while paying it forward to create a special place for those who are currently fighting cancer – and for those who will fight in the future. If you’d like to learn more about contributing to the Illinois CancerCare Foundation Tribute Garden, click here to learn more about our vision or contact Tonda Thompson at (309) 243-3422 or at


Thank you to our local vendors!

JR's Landscape Services

Midwest Engineering

Heartland Irrigation & Plumbing

Roth Stonework

Kelley Ironworks