CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - For the last several years, the landscaping outside of CaroMont Cancer Center has looked different than most. It’s speckled with rocks that are painted in bright colors, covered in sparkles, or bears an inspirational quote.
Oncology Social Worker for CaroMont Health Rici Reid started the CareRocks program, but never imagined it would grow to what it is today.
Tasked with providing emotional and financial support to patients fighting cancer, she thought handing out rocks with inspirational phrases written on them may give them an extra boost when going into treatment.
“And we didn’t put them out we just kind of passed them out when a cancer patient needed them,” Reid said.
Reid says it was a popular trend around the country to leave encouraging messages in public places but faded with time. To her surprise, the rocks continued popping up at the cancer center.
“Then they started showing up and our patients starting coming in saying did you see the rocks?” Reid said. “They were so excited, and I had no idea where they were coming from.”
As a joke, hospital staff started calling whoever was leaving the rocks in the landscaping as the ‘Rock Bunny’.
Dr. Jerome Butler is a radiation oncologist at CaroMont Cancer Center. He started noticing the impact the rocks were having on his patients.
“Over the last few decades research has shown giving patients inspiration and hope further reduces anxiety and fatigue through the course of the diagnosis,” Dr. Butler said.
Since then, Reid has continued to place markers and blank rocks in the hospital’s break room. Staff at the hospital often spend their breaks designing new rocks for the landscaping. Reid says it’s not only been beneficial to the patients, but also a distraction to hospital employees who put in hard days at work.
“Some patients say you know you took a rock, something hard and turned it into something beautiful,” Reid said. “Maybe I can make my cancer that’s hard something beautiful too.”