Do you have a special way that you celebrate milestones in your life? Taking the time to celebrate and enjoy big events is important because it gives you an opportunity to reflect back on what’s led you there.
For cancer patients, there are many milestones along their journey with this disease – and this is why the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation launched the ‘Let Hope Ring’ program in partnership with Newfoundland Power last year.
The first Bell of Hope was unveiled at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre in April 2015, as part of our activities for National Cancer Awareness Month. The first person to ring the bell was 30-year-old breast cancer patient, Nikki Parrell, who was joined by Gary Smith, President and CEO of Newfoundland Power, David Diamond, CEO of Eastern Health and the Honourable Paul Davis, then Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.
With the installation of the first Bell of Hope at the Cancer Centre in St. John’s, word quickly spread among cancer patients all over the province.
Soon we were receiving calls from patients in communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador looking for a Bell of Hope to be installed in their local chemotherapy clinics – so that they could celebrate milestones with their own cancer care teams.
I’ve had the pleasure of travelling across Newfoundland and Labrador this fall – meeting with cancer patients as they help us celebrate the arrival of the ‘Let Hope Ring’ program to their facility. From Stephenville to Grand Falls-Windsor to Happy-Valley Goose Bay – patients have shared their stories, and told me how good it felt to ring the bell after a milestone in their treatment.
Patients like 14-year-old Nicolas Clarke from Happy-Valley Goose Bay. He’s battled cancer at two different times in his young life and it wasn’t hard to see the emotion on his mom Debbie’s face as he became the first patient there to ring the Bell of Hope, along with two other cancer survivors at the Labrador Health Centre.
Then there’s Agnes Patey in St. Anthony, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of this year. She was excited to be the first cancer survivor on the Northern Peninsula to ring the Bell of Hope.
Perhaps what has been so surprising is how the patient community has embraced the Let Hope Ring initiative!
We didn’t envision that entire families would have their picture taken in front of a Bell of Hope to post on Facebook, or would write a song about ringing the Bell for YouTube – or, like cancer patient Beverly Kelly, would ring the Bell of Hope dressed in pink from head to toe!
On behalf of the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation, I’d like to say a big thank you to the cancer care teams across the province who have embraced the Let Hope Ring program at each of the 14 cancer care sites across the province.
You are our ambassadors. You encourage patients to use the Bell of Hope and often celebrate right alongside with them. It’s been a pleasure to work with all of your teams to roll-out the project and to share your stories of hope.
As we ring in a New Year and welcome all of the hopes, dreams and challenges in store for 2016, we reflect on how a bell can become a symbol of courage in the midst of a personal storm. It’s been a privilege to be part of it. ■
This story was written by Lynette Hillier, Executive Director with the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation.