wishing tree with colorful wishing tags

City of Hope’s Wishing Trees bloom with messages of healing

“I wish everyone diagnosed with cancer will WIN their fight!”

“Keep my family safe and healthy. Make them happy forever.”

“For my husband, with love. Let’s hope and pray for you together.”

At City of Hope, the trees blossom not with fruit or flowers, but with messages of health, healing and hope. 

Brightly colored tags hang from branches with heartfelt wishes written by City of Hope patients and family members, staff and visitors. The Wishing Tree project can be seen at City of Hope’s main campus in Duarte and all of its clinics, including City of Hope Newport Beach. There, people can write their messages and hang the tags on an artificial tree. The tags will eventually be displayed on live trees that will be planted at the under-construction Irvine campus offering 21st century cancer care to the community.

“Just like our groundbreaking research and innovative cancer treatments, we’re bringing this long-standing City of Hope tradition to Orange County,” said Susan Fox, the senior physician relations liaison for City of Hope Orange County. 

Wishing Trees are inspired by Japan’s Tanabata festival, Fox said. During this seasonal celebration, strips of paper in vibrant colors (called tanzaku) are inscribed with a wish for the coming year and hung from bamboo trees. City of Hope holds its own Wishing Tree celebration each year, where people can write messages for the trees at the main entrance of the Duarte campus while listening to taiko drummers and enjoying refreshments. 

In Orange County, hundreds of messages have been gathered so far at City of Hope Newport Beach, Fox said. The tradition was sparked by the many tags created at City of Hope’s community kiosk during the 2019 More Than Pink Walk sponsored by Susan G. Komen Orange County at Fashion Island.  

“One of our first groups at the walk was a father with four little kids; the oldest was probably no more than 10 years old,” Fox said. “It touched my heart to see this young family writing their wishes, hoping that their mother would do well and survive.”

For Fox, the Wishing Trees are a visual reminder of City of Hope’s mission to save and change lives by turning hope into reality.

“I feel blessed to work for an organization that helps people,” she said. “The strength and hope so many people have during their cancer journey is inspiring, to be honest.”

Turn your own tree into a tree of hope. Download our Wishing Tree tag, add your message of love and resilience, and hang the tag proudly for all to see. Share your wishing tree tag on social media and tag @CityofHopeOC.

You can also leave a virtual message of hope at City of Hope’s online Wishing Tree.

If you’d like to partner with City of Hope Orange County in our mission to bring compassionate care closer to home, find out how you can get involved.