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Clang! cried the bell, as noisemakers rattled and whoops and cheers rang out
Clang! pealed the bell, as noisemakers chattered with yells and applause
Clang! sang the bell, as noisemakers roared and voices whooped and hollered.
And I stood there, covered my face, and cried.
* * *
As the final ritual for ending chemotherapy at Advent Hospital, patients are invited to say the poem below and “ring the bell” three times. I didn’t plan on ringing it, since I thought I would be the only one there to do the deed. As it turns out, all the infusion nurses, including several who had taken care of me, excitedly spread the word that the bell was going to be rung. This act is a milestone in so many ways, to mark the end of a treacherous road and to celebrate life. My husband, fortunately, encouraged me to do it and stood nearby. So, when I walked over to the bell that was hanging on the wall, imagine my surprise when all the nurses, grinning and rattling their noisemakers, stood nearby. This is the poem I declared, followed by a fist pump!
Ring this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
— Irve Le Moyne
My journey has not been nearly as difficult as some patients; some people have many more treatments with devastating side effects. Although I have had my share of pain and discomfort and now have peripheral neuropathy, I am satisfied that I took the steps I needed to take to pursue a rich and worthy life.
Now a new path unfolds in front of me. I will have to contemplate how the road ahead appears. As our @mim526 said to me early on, cancer does not define a person; it refines them.
How that transformation, if any, manifests, time will tell.
Ring that bell!