Photo of Giboney family

Richard Giboney and his daughters Corrine and Thea keep Joan Giboney's spirit alive and bring warmth and good cheer each year with the Joan Giboney Tree of Hope located at the UC Davis Cancer Center.

Waiting in the UC Davis Cancer Center lobby nine years ago this December, looking at the simple tree the staff had set up, Joan Giboney decided to make sure future trees would be dazzling. An interior decorator by trade, she wanted to use her talents to raise the spirits of other patients who needed cancer treatment during the holidays.

The Cancer Center's next tree stood 15 feet tall, glittered with lights and danced with hundreds of gold, plum and teal ornaments, chosen to complement the lobby's color scheme. A sale of the elegant ornaments, held in mid-December, raised $3,000 for breast cancer research.

Joan Giboney died that March, 10 years after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer and two years after the cancer recurred. The longtime Lodi resident left behind a devoted husband, two daughters, two grandchildren and plans for the following year's toy-themed tree.

Photo of sisters admiring Christmas tree

The Joan Giboney Tree of Hope always lifts the spirits of cancer patients and their families.

Each year since, Giboney's family and friends have continued the tradition. In just seven years, they have raised more than $30,000 for breast cancer research at UC Davis Cancer Center, brought warmth and beauty to hundreds of cancer patients, and kept Joan Giboney's name and spirit alive.

“For our family, this tree so symbolizes my mother. She was always thinking about other people, and what she could do to lift their spirits,” says Corrine Christensen. “You see my mom when you see the tree. She's right there.” Reared in Lodi, Corrine now lives in Lafayette, with her husband and their two sons.

Thea Giboney, a health-care program director living in Clayton, also says the tree is a perfect tribute to her mother. “Each year patients come up to us and say they were feeling sad when they walked into the Cancer Center, but because of the tree they had a better day,” she says. “That's what my mom hoped for.”

For Richard Giboney, the annual event not only honors his late wife's memory and wishes; it also brings his family back to Lodi every winter. His brother, John Giboney, comes from Southern California. Corrine and Thea both come from the Bay Area.

The Joan Giboney Tree of Hope is on display in the Cancer Center lobby, 4501 X Street, Sacramento. On Monday, Dec. 18, ornaments from the tree were sold at an “untrimming party” in the lobby from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.