In a true demonstration of community spirit several volunteers and donors throughout Cayman joined with staff at the Health Services Authority (HSA) to complete a new memorial garden at the Cayman Islands Hospital. The garden was constructed in honour of former staff member Chelsea Doxey, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2015.
Ms Doxey, who worked as a paramedic in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department, was 27-years-old when her two-year battle with ovarian cancer ended last year July.
The memorial garden project developed from Ms Doxey’s last wish to always be remembered. Her twin sister Cilicia Dacosta recalled, “In her final moments Chelsea asked to never be forgotten and with this garden we have now created a memorial in her honour which will also help other persons who are affected by cancer.”
During her illness Ms Doxey endured many extensive treatments at the Chemotherapy Unit. It is typical of a patient receiving chemotherapy to spend these lengthy periods being confined to a chair with little to do except read a book or watch television. The garden was built to provide an alternative; creating additional space for patients where they can stretch their legs and relax whilst undergoing their treatments.
After Ms Doxey’s passing, permission was granted by both the HSA and Cayman Islands Cancer Society to construct the garden on an area of undeveloped land next to the hospital’s Chemotherapy Unit. Work on the project began on 5 October, with HSA staff and Chelsea’s family members clearing the site. During this time, a local architect designed the garden; once the design was surveyed, materials were quantified and local companies were contacted to assist with the initiative.
“These companies donated materials and labourers volunteered their skills; this combined effort of all involved makes the garden a true community project. Without these efforts completion of the garden would not have been possible,” said HSA’s Occupational Health and Safety Officer and main overseer of the project, Debra Gaffigan.
After weeks of hard work, the garden was completed on 18 November. The new addition features a brick walkway, a gazebo with a wooden bench donated by the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) and a memorial stone wall with a plaque dedicated to Ms Doxey. “Chelsea was quite a character and so we wanted this plaque to reflect her personality,” said Mrs Gaffigan.
The memorial wall is also open to family members who would like to pay tribute to loved ones they have lost as a result of cancer.
At the grand opening ceremony held on Wednesday, 23 November at the Chemotherapy Unit, all donors and contributors to the garden were acknowledged.
HSA Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood, who was among the volunteers who worked tirelessly to get the garden under way, stated: “To Chelsea’s family, friends and colleagues and to all the volunteers and donors, we say thank you for all the work, support, words of encouragement and guidance that you gave during the time the project was ongoing. We truly believe that this garden will both honour Chelsea and will benefit other cancer patients while they are receiving their treatments in the years to come.”