On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute (TCI) at Long Beach Medical Center held a ceremony to unveil a giant art installation made up of 14,000 origami paper cranes in its Todd Cancer Pavilion. The installation was constructed using paper cranes in different sizes and colors that hang from the building’s three-story ceiling in the shape of a giant cancer awareness ribbon.

When Long Beach Medical Center opened its cancer pavilion more than four years ago, it debuted the original “Cranes of Hope” art installation to give hope and encouragement to patients, friends, family members and all who step inside.

An ancient Japanese legend vows that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish. TCI’s wish is simple ― for everyone who walks through its doors to enjoy a joyful, long life or successful recovery from illness or injury.

Over time, the need to replace the paper cranes arose. Throughout the last year, the community answered the large task and partnered with Long Beach Medical Center to fold thousands of origami cranes to help re-build the installation.

Staff, patients and community members were invited to help commemorate the new installation, including Bob Mell, a volunteer at TCI, who spoke about how the cranes have impacted his life.

“Five years ago, I never would have thought I’d be volunteering in this building,” said Bob. “I had just went through four years of cancer treatments with my wife, and when she passed away I never wanted to come back to Long Beach Medical Center.”

After some time, Bob’s neighbor encouraged him to volunteer at TCI. At first, he was hesitant, but then he made a visit to TCI.

“When I first walked into the new Todd Cancer Pavilion, I was mesmerized by the cranes, it was a soothing feeling,” said Bob. “I thought ‘I could volunteer here, because I know my wife would have loved it.’ For three and a half years, I’ve watched these cranes, and watched people feel their spirit. I hope I’m here for another three years to watch them provide hope and peace to our patients and families.”

In addition to the installation, cranes are displayed throughout the Pavilion in glass containers. Patients are welcome to take a memento home after a treatment or appointment.

“The cranes have taken on a really significant meaning for the patients that come here for treatment,” says Cathy Kopy, executive director, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “Patients will pick up a crane because to them it’s symbolic of their journey. We’re so grateful to our community for allowing us to continue providing them with that inspiring and comforting symbol of hope.”