Healing garden at the Cancer Resource Centre in Munster

The healing garden at the Cancer Resource Centre in Munster is a place for meditation.


As she underwent treatment for stage 4 uterine cancer, June Hawk-Franklin and her husband, Jerry Franklin, often visited the healing garden at the Cancer Resource Centre in Munster.

“We enjoyed the garden together because it provided peace of mind and a positive attitude,” Jerry Franklin said. “It was a very special place for both of us.”

After Hawk-Franklin’s death, her husband followed her wishes to support the Resource Centre and donate to the garden. The center is a nonprofit program of the Community Cancer Research Foundation dedicated to improving the quality of cancer care available in Northwest Indiana and the South Chicago Suburbs.

“I still go out to the garden quite a bit and walk and sit on a bench,” Franklin said. “I find it’s easier to meditate with the sounds of the waterfalls in the background. You can listen and pay attention the things around you.”

In honor of the couple’s devotion and contributions, the name of the garden, was changed to the June Hawk-Franklin Garden of Meditation and Healing and a dedication was held in celebration. The community was invited to tour the grounds and learn more about the aspects of healing gardens from such artists as Michael Grab, who practices the ancient art of stone balancing as a way to inspire meditation and a sense that anything is possible. The perfectly balanced stones look as though they are held together with glue which, Grab explains, is why his he calls his artistry Gravity Glue.

Vickie Jostes, a master gardener and master naturalist, presented a talk titled “The Gift of Healing Herbs.” She shared the history of herbs and plants long used in ancient Chinese medicine because of their healing power. Jostes is always careful to warn that no plants should be used medicinally without consulting a physician who is well qualified in botanical medicine. She noted that peppermint, chamomile, ginger root and garlic root have long been used to make soothing and healing teas. Besides herbs, water also has a wonderfully tranquil effect on people as well, Jostes said.

“Probably nowhere is the need for a connection to nature more poignant than in times of illness and crisis where balance and continuity is threatened and our sense of isolation and vulnerability heightened,” wrote David Kamp, the founding principal of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, in the foreword of "Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Space" by Daniel Winterbottom and Amy Wagenfeld (Timber Press 2016; $45).

“It’s a calming and relaxing setting,” said Mary Shields, administrator of the Cancer Research Foundation who was involved with the creation of the garden. The garden opened in 2008 and was called the Healing Garden.

“It’s a place for people facing cancer to gather their thoughts and to find a focus,” said Tony Andello, director of the center.

“We have programs like our brick dedication in the fall and spring where people can buy a brick in memory of someone, to write an inspirational quote or a group getting together to raise money for a brick.”

The garden is just part of the many services the Cancer Resource Centre offers free of charge including books, videos and other educational material in their library, social and professionally-led groups, classes and programs. The center is funded from donations and grants, in-kind donations and volunteer support. 

For those visiting the garden, Franklin recommends they travel to a memorial bench with a plaque dedicated to his wife. Written on it are the words “Hawks Forever Fly Free.”

“It’s true,” he said. “When you look up in the sky, you can see them fly and glide in the air, they are forever free.”

The Cancer Resource Centre is at 926 Ridge Road in Munster. For more information, call (219) 836-3349 or visit cancerresourcecentre.com.