By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN When Jim Mueller decided he wanted to do something special for his wife, Cindy, who dealt with two bouts of cancer within two years, he looked no further than their front yard.
There, he created a “colors of cancer healing garden.”
“She went to work every day through her treatment,” Jim said, referring to Cindy’s battle with cervical cancer. “I wanted to do something special for her.”
Cindy’s treatment included five weeks of external radiation, with chemotherapy once a week, and another five treatments of internal radiation.
That was the second time she had cancer. A year before that, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had successful surgery to remove it.
Jim and Cindy are glad to have those experiences behind them.
“She had an appointment May 1 and was declared cancer-free,” Jim said.
Now they have a place to contemplate everything they have been through.
“We put a bench here so we can sit here and think about what happened and how grateful we are that things turned out the way they did,” Jim said.
The garden includes several types of flowers and plants, each representing a different type of cancer. Jim said he got the idea when he was trying to decide what flowers to grow in the front yard.
“She likes carnations, but you can’t grow them in Minnesota,” Jim said. “Someone at the greenhouse mentioned the colors of cancer.”
Jim did his research to find flora and fauna to match as many of the colors as possible.
“She likes tulips, so we planted those and they were really pretty this spring,” Jim said.
“It was the only way I could get him to plant tulips,” Cindy added.
In addition to tulips, the garden includes lavender grass, four rose bushes, Asiatic lilies, and Chinese sedum.
The garden is identified by a hanging wooden sign with the words “colors of cancer healing garden” burned into it, along with another hanging sign bearing Cindy’s name.
Markers with different types of cancer on them are spread throughout the space.
Jim estimates he spent at least 50 to 60 hours on the woodwork alone, which utilized a slab of wood from his father’s sawmill.
His hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It’s pretty nice,” Cindy said. “A lot of it, he wouldn’t let me see until he was done. I came home one day and it was done.”
Jim would like to share the garden with the community.
“Everyone knows someone who’s had cancer,” Jim said. “They can stop by and look at it.”
Guests can share their reflections in a guestbook.
The garden is located at 306 14th St. in Delano.