Andrea Mitchell

Written by Andrea Mitchell, M.Div., BCC.

Andrea is an oncology chaplain at the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Cancer Institute in Winston-Salem.

Hope can serve as a powerful source of motivation for those who are diagnosed with cancer. The Locks of Hope sculpture, located outside of the Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Institute, serves as a source of motivation, joy and meaning for patients as they enter our doors.

The sculpture was inspired by the memory of Mabelline McMillian Mitchell, who was a patient at the institute. It was dedicated in her honor on her birthday, Sept. 24, 2021, by her son, John Mark Mitchell. "We believe that by remembering my mom with this sculpture, it will provide a stronger bond of faith within our community and will help find healing and happiness along the path to the cure," John Mark said.

The sculpture concept was based on the “love lock bridge” in Paris. It has bars within it to place padlocks. Patients place locks on the sculpture no matter where they are in their cancer journey. Locks on the sculpture were decorated by patients with their own flair and personality. Some locks contain fishing lures and team colors, while others have names written on them or ribbons.

Many hands contributed to the sculpture’s completion, including those of Paul Spainhour, a local artist and blacksmith from Lewisville, North Carolina. Spainhour, a hematology patient at the Cancer Institute, said it was meaningful for him, as a patient, to provide this sculpture for other patients to participate in. Spainhour’s lock was the first one. Paul says that his blacksmith shop, now turned business, has been a source of therapy for him.

Spainhour expressed special thanks to Frank Naples, Eddie Mayberry, Wil Lowdermilk, Austin Doub, Mark Wooters, Fishel Steel, Beamer Custom Coatings and Tony Willard Construction.

The Locks of Hope sculpture is Spainhour’s first public installation. “I would also like to say thank you to the foundation for the opportunity to fabricate this piece and have it on display,” he said.

For cancer patients and their families, the sculpture offers a tangible reminder that they are part of a larger story. The locks are a symbol of hope for them and for all patients – from those newly diagnosed to those thriving as longtime survivors.