Sunflowers and Sarcoma Survivors


For many years, the sunflower has been established as a symbol for sarcoma awareness. Since its establishment in 2001, Rein in Sarcoma has used this symbol along with many sarcoma organizations worldwide. Patients, survivors, and families have looked to the sunflower as a beacon of light, providing hope for a brighter future. Even during dark and difficult times, those affected by sarcoma often display warm, inviting sunflowers around their houses and take pictures in bright, cheery sunflower fields. Perhaps one reason why sarcoma survivors have clung to the symbol is because of the commonalities they see between themselves and beautiful sunflowers.

They come in many different types. Scientists have identified over 50 different species of sunflowers, as well as over 50 different types of sarcoma. And just as each sunflower is unique, so are sarcoma survivors. They can both be found scattered throughout many parts of the world. The flowers and people each provide beauty in their own special way and share their uniqueness with all who observe them.

They forge deep roots so that they can grow tall. Sunflowers penetrate through soil with roots that can grow several feet deep. This provides them with strength to become some of the tallest flowers in the world. Similarly, sarcoma survivors are stretched through deep levels of physical and emotional strain because of their aggressive diagnoses and intensive treatments. Yet, they often rise to new heights as they gain perspective on life and find ways to improve the world around them. Both sunflowers and sarcoma survivors often surprise the world by finding ways to thrive even when placed in harsh living conditions.

They follow the sun. Sunflowers get their name from their heliotropism, or their tendency to turn towards the sun as they grow. In a similar way, sarcoma survivors thrive as they seek out hope and goodness. While aware of the gravity of the disease, they search for the best doctors, the best treatments, the best support, and the best friends. By focusing on the light, they find nourishment to grow.

They attract and provide nourishment to others. Sunflowers produce pollen and seeds that attract and give food to birds, bees, butterflies, and a variety of bugs. By comparison, sarcoma survivors often attract and strengthen the people around them with their powerful stories and unique outlooks. They are quick to offer their friendship to patients in need and eager to share their experiences for the benefit of all.

They represent similar attributes. Sunflowers have been established by various cultures to represent faith, loyalty, adoration, strength, cheerfulness, and warmth. Their yellow color, also the designated color of sarcoma, represents vitality, happiness, and friendship. While there is no question of the devastating effects of sarcoma, many patients, survivors, and families are able to find light and hope in the midst of heartache. The symbol of the sunflower is a powerful reminder to promote awareness and support for everyone affected by sarcoma.

written by Julieann Selden