Ringing of the bell signifies the end of chemotherapy treatments
June 20th was a very special day for patient Heather Fox and her family, and for the Jefferson Cary Cancer Center staff. Heather received her last chemotherapy treatment that Tuesday morning, and was the first patient to “ring the bell” donated by her family.
Many cancer centers have a bell for patients to ring the day they have their last chemo treatment, and now the beautiful new JCCC bell hangs just inside the treatment area door so that all patients can ring the bell after reaching that milestone in their cancer journey.
The bell was just another way for Heather’s family of showing support since her breast cancer diagnosis last November. Her sister, Dani Keiser, who lives in Holland, TX, began raising funds to purchase the bell by making “Dani’s Bracelets” and donating the proceeds to purchase the bell and also to raise funds for “TeamHeather,” to participate in Aroostook Relay for Life on June 16th. One of Heather’s brothers, Dan Hafford, Jr., a member of the military stationed in Okinawa, Japan, surprised Heather by making the trip to Maine to participate in Relay and to be there to dedicate the bell with Heather and his family. Another brother, Bill Hafford, of Union, ME, carved the granite stone for the plaque and bell.
After each patient ceremoniously rings the bell, they also have the opportunity to write a personal note in a journal for the next patient.
“When we found out about Heather’s diagnosis, of course we were shocked and terrified and didn’t know what to do,” Dani said. “We just wanted to support Heather and help her through this. Ringing the bell is a symbol to recognize what these patients have been through, and how far they’ve come in their journey.”
“Our patients become part of our family,” explained Jenn Plant, RN, JCCC Manager. “This bell has a very special story; it’s part of them and part of us, and we are so honored that Heather’s family chose to share this with us.”
The family also created a Team Heather flag honoring Heather and her brother, Dan’s best friend, who also battled cancer.
Heather’s family has been reaching out to other hospitals in hopes that they can add bells to as many Cancer Centers across the country that they can. While here in Aroostook County, they also donated a bell to Aroostook Cancer Care at The Aroostook Medical Center.
A very special morning, with very special people ended with rings of a bell, hugs, smiles and some tears of joy and relief, knowing this part of Heather’s journey is done. And, because of this family’s support, caring and kindness, now all of the JCCC chemotherapy patients can ring the bell in ceremonial recognition of “my treatments done, this course is run and I am on My Way!” And, Heather poignantly summed up what everyone was feeling on that special day, “I really love everyone here, but I hope we don’t have to come back.”