Friday, September 22, 2023

Written in Stone

Staff Writer | June 12, 2023 1:31 AM

MOSES LAKE — The encouragement, the remembrances, the sentiments won’t be visible, but they’re there.

“‘No one fights alone.’ God.”

“We are all behind you.”

“You got this.”

“Got your back.”

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

“For my heroes, past, present and future.”

They were written on the bare concrete walls and floor of the new Confluence Health radiation treatment center in Moses Lake by cancer survivors and patients, families and friends of patients, the survivors of people who lost the battle with the disease.

The Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation raised about $3.5 million for the project. Foundation board chair Michael Graham said the organization invited people to cover the walls and floors with messages they wanted to send to the patients who would use the room in the future.

People fanned out with markers, cans of spray paint, paints and brushes to leave some encouraging words or remembrances.

“It’s to put this intention of people’s love and interest and good wishes and all these things, and you put them down - you cover them up, but they’re still there,” Graham said. “It’s still got that great feeling behind it.”

The messages ranged from a few words written with markers to detailed paintings.

“If your path demands you to walk through hell, walk as if you owned the place.”

“‘Promise me you’ll always remember - you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think!’ Winnie the Pooh.”

That was accompanied by a drawing of Winnie the Pooh with a bright red balloon.

A father and daughter worked together on a mural of a sunset over an island beach, with a message of “Faith” and “Hope.”

Graham said he’d seen similar activities at churches when buildings were being remodeled, but it wasn’t his idea.

“I’d love to take credit for it, but it was actually Tom Carlson’s idea,” he said. “Tom is a radiation oncologist with Confluence, and he came up with this. It’s called Written in Stone. People in the community who wanted to come – staff people, the foundation and our volunteers and various other people, came on a Saturday morning, and I guess you could say did artwork. The whole idea was to give messages of love and support to people who will someday use this (facility).”

Jennifer Webb and her husband Tony wanted to support those patients and remember. Tony Webb’s father survived his battle with cancer, but Jennifer Webb’s father didn’t.

“In memory of my dad, Pat Acres (1942-2018),” she wrote, and followed with a favorite quote from her dad. “‘Do the right thing and keep your mouth shut.’

“The idea, in my mind, is that they’re just encircled in love,” she said. “With all the messages that are behind the wall, the thought and feeling is within that room.”

Cancer cuts through the lives of everyone around it, and the families remembered.

“You are so missed. But you know I have found my place here because of you,” a husband wrote to his late wife.

“This is a great day for us. And for all touched by cancer. Happy Anniversary, June 19, 1985. It would’ve been 38 years,” wrote another.

“Dear Mom, We miss you. To the love of my life, 10 years you’ve been gone. You both taught me to keep fighting this terrible disease. Thanks to you both, I beat it the first time and I’ll beat it again.”

“Mom, I miss you. I was 14. You were 37. Cancer took you way too young. I know you’re in a better place. You missed so much of my life. I’ll always love you.”

Participants wrote Bible verses, and survivors wrote their names and some of the details of their battles.

Webb said the treatment center was important to her because it will allow people to be treated in the community rather than being required to travel out of town. The out-of-town treatments were hard on her dad, she said.

Writing on the wall turned out to be a more emotional experience than she expected.

“Both my husband and I didn’t expect it,” she said. “There was kind of a feeling of peace in there.”

Cheryl Schweizer has been with the Columbia Basin Herald for more than a decade. She may be reached at



A cancer survivor encourages other, future cancer patients with a message hidden in the walls.



A cancer survivor gets some help to write words of gratitude and support during the Written in Stone event.



Participants used markers, paints, brushes and spray paint in support of cancer patients.



Cancer patients and their families took time to write down their sentiments about cancer and survival at the Written in Stone event sponsored by the Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation.



The words will be hidden behind the walls, but participants said the sentiments will always be there.

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