Ever felt like giving the Big Bell a ring every time you walk past it? It’s like seeing a big red flashing button 🔴 that feels like it has an invisible sign on saying “PRESS ME” and you know you shouldn’t 🔕 but the childish urge is so strong. Well that’s me every time I walk past it. I just want to be a rebel and ring it every time I pass it!! 🔔 “Last orders please”
I know The Bell has mixed feelings for many patients, I was one of them so I appreciate and respect why. It’s a very personal and individual thing. I know that the purpose of the bell is to help patients at the start, and or during, and or at the end of their treatment. It’s there for patients to ring whenever they like. If you’re nervous of starting a treatment, if you want to mark a milestone, celebrate good results, but probably not just for walking past as it drawers a lot of attention,…. but it’s up to the patient how they use it, and of course they don’t have to.
There are a couple of reasons I was feeling a little uncomfortable about the bell. The first time I was introduced to it I was told “this is our bell that patients ring when they’ve finished treatment”. Of course I could have questioned that at the time but when everything is new and you’re trying to take everything in, it didn’t occur. I have secondary breast cancer (which means cancer has spread to another part/s of the body), so I’ll be on treatment indefinitely. Currently forever. If it were 2050 then there might be a cure but that’s 30 yrs away. Blimey, that would make me 86! Another niggle is the original poem which is next to the bell that patients are encouraged to read before ringing. I couldn’t relate to it for my personal health situation, maybe because I’d only ever seen the poem read and the bell rang by patients who had finished treatment?
This does not mean that I don’t celebrate or congratulate other patients when they ring the bell because I do. I’m genuinely happy that they’ve reached a milestone. All milestones are important in life no matter what they are. Any excuse to celebrate, clap, cheer and hug that’s me, (no hugging during current COVID-19 times though), but to ring the bell to mark the end of treatment…………………. Well I’m glad to say that there’s been a shift in mindset, including my own, and a shift in meaning.
The bell now has an additional poem. It’s lovely. I think that every one can relate to patient Jane Brady’s words, and if there are more patients like me that were slightly uncomfortable at times with the purpose of the bell, then ring the hell out of it and make friends with it. I did! 🎉 I nearly rang the thing off the wall to celebrate my 100th chemo. It was liberating getting rid of the bell anxiety I’d built up!
It’s NOT the end of treatment bell, it’s a whatever you want it to be bell and it’s for everyone.