St. Joseph student dedicates ‘Cancer Tree’ to honor all of those who have fought


Sophomore Jimmy Milas poses next to the tree he planted as part of his Eagle Scout project in the East entryway at St. Joseph.

Jimmy Milas, Correspondent

This school year you may notice a different decoration outside between the 200 and 300 hallways outside of the cafeteria. As a project for my Eagle Scouts, I constructed a Cancer Awareness Courtyard, where visitors can tie ribbons onto a “Japanese Tree Lilac” in honor of someone who has lost their battle with cancer.

The project took six long weeks, and what started as a grassy, plain area, served as my canvas for this dedicated area for reflection. The dedication was a few weeks ago on a Sunday. The goal is for the tree to be decorated to the nines in ribbons, just as my inspiration was at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.

Every day we wake up, go to work, go to school, not knowing what lies ahead, not knowing what lurks in the dark abyss we call the future. I could never put myself in someone’s shoes who has had cancer in their lifetime, I can only imagine the pain that they went through.

The thought that there might not be a next day for them, that there could be that one last hug, one last kiss, one last “I love you.” When someone has cancer, or even any illness, it isn’t just one person who is affected, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.

We all are affected, we all think about the last moment with them or the memories we had shared. It plagues our bodies and minds to think that there is nothing we can do, not anything we achieve. At times you may feel small and puny, but, in reality, you are strong and mighty. You have the power that our loved ones do not. You are the ones carrying their flame and telling their stories.

The reality is death doesn’t discriminate between the black or white, rich or poor.

We together can use this tree a sign of unity that we can all come together as people to pray and reflect for those who aren’t in this courtyard but instead in our hearts. For the ones who are currently fighting their battle, use this as a way of knowing you are not alone, you must know that there is not a treatment against cancer, but a fight. When that fight is won return here and tie another ribbon for yourself, a cancer-free self.

One day I hope that everyone who visits my tree will be tying a ribbon on for only survivors.