The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a $1 million pledge from Larry Crain Sr. to support the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute’s pursuit of National Cancer Institute Designation.
UAMS will rename the Seed of Hope Garden on the Cancer Institute’s ground floor as the Janett Crain Seed of Hope Garden, after Crain’s late wife, who died in 2018 after a brief battle with cancer.
“I just want to honor her and the things she did, not only in our personal lives, but also the things she’s done for all the communities we’ve lived in,” Crain said. “I didn’t realize how many lives she affected until after her death. There were so many people who made me aware of things she did for them that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.”
The gift also honors Janett’s caregivers, as well as Crain’s sister-in-law, who survived advanced lung cancer thanks to a clinical trial and is now cancer-free. “I want to think that making this commitment will create results for someone else in a similar way,” Crain said.
NCI designation is awarded through a highly competitive assessment process during which cancer centers must demonstrate outstanding depth and breadth of high-quality cancer research. Receiving designation brings substantial benefits, including the ability to access federal research funding and offer clinical trials not available to non-designated centers. It also is expected to result in a $72 million economic impact in Arkansas and create about 1,500 new jobs over five years.
There are 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in 36 states across the country, with the closest to Arkansas being in Memphis (pediatrics only), Dallas and Oklahoma City.
“This incredible gift will provide critical resources to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute as we pursue NCI designation,” said Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor and director of the Cancer Institute. “With NCI designation comes access to the latest in clinical trials and therapies for our patients. Renaming the Seed of Hope Garden is a fitting way to honor Janett, who inspired so many with her example and service.”
The Seed of Hope is a seed-shaped sculpture carved by local artist Michael Warrick from a 3,700-pound piece of Turkish marble. It is a symbol of hope and healing for patients at the Cancer Institute. A small garden surrounds the sculpture.
On each patient’s final day of active treatment, they are presented with two seed-shaped tokens. One token is placed in the sculpture as a celebration of survivorship. The second is taken with them to keep or pass on to someone else as their own symbol of hope. The Seed of Hope Garden is one of the most-visited areas in the Cancer Institute, and every instance of another patient placing their token in the sculpture is a celebration.