There are days just meant for going through files, cleaning out drawers and looking through old papers that take you back in time.  Some times good times, some times not so good times.  This was one of those days.  First the wind came up, the clouds came in and the rain began as sort of a soft mist that turned the day into a raw, blustery reminder Winter still has a grasp on us.

The bin I pulled out looked like old papers that were ready for the shredder.  Many of them now, look like they will make perfect stuffing for future mailings, but not all.  No, at the bottom of this container were folders from 2008 when Leroy was a patient in the radiation oncology area of Hopkins.  His cancer had moved into areas where the surgeons knife couldn’t go, so radiation was the answer.  Some of the radiation killed some of the cancer.  Most of his radiation was used to ease the pain the cancer was causing in his bones. 

We went daily for weeks and as we got closer to the end of  treatment, Leroy’s wonderful radiation nurses kept reminding him that on his last day of treatment, he would be ringing the Hopkins “End of Treatment Bell.”   It’s a ceremony that is cherished and celebrated by everyone in the unit.  It’s an accomplishment to get through the perils of radiation.

So inside this folder was a yellow card with big black printing on one side…”Bell Ringing Celebration” is what it says and I want to share the poem, written by a radiation patient, Mary Kathleen Adcock.  She captures the sense of what it means to all the patients who complete this part of the cancer journey.

“Your day has come to strike the bell!

Your silent heart has much to tell

And much to toll this proud new day

Treatment done, you’re on your way.”

The bell gives everyone a brief moment of joy…mission complete…if only for that day.

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