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Ethan's gift: End of treatment bells
The kids that fight cancer are true heroes. I am continually amazed at the strength and courage they display in the midst of a scary and unpredictable cancer diagnosis. My son, Ethan, was diagnosed at the age of 8 with a bone/soft tissue cancer called Ewing sarcoma. Many days were difficult: he didn’t want to go for treatment, the scans and tests, the noises, how the chemo made him feel, being tired, harassed about what and how much he ate and drank on any given day, the knowing a fever meant an ER trip with multiple pokes and a lengthy stay in the hospital. But in spite of all this, he had a smile on his face, love and kindness in his heart and a strength that was undeniable. He made us strong. Following 33 radiation treatments, Ethan was able to ring the gong. Every time we went for treatment, we walked past that gong and eagerly waited for our turn. What a joyous day that was! When Ethan was about a month out from finishing his chemotherapy treatment, we were in clinic waiting for outpatient chemo and discussing how we should celebrate finishing treatment. We asked the nurse where the bell was for the kids to ring when they finished treatment. She shook her head no, and said they did not have a bell. Ethan and I looked at each other with sadness in our eyes. I told him, “No worries, Ethan, we will bring our own bells and ring them up and down the halls. We will celebrate no matter what.” Ethan looked at me and said, “Or we could just give the hospital a bell so all the kids can ring it when they are done!” I just looked at Ethan in amazement, thinking how this little guy could be so thoughtful; he never ceases to amaze me. I totally agreed with his idea and started looking immediately for the perfect bell. We ordered two bells, one for the outpatient cancer clinic and one for the inpatient ninth floor West Tower. We searched all over the Internet for the perfect saying and had two plaques made. We called them the “end of treatment bells” because we wanted all the children included, oncology and hematology patients. We have seen many kids ring the bell since they were installed. With each one, our hearts overflow at the joy on the faces of the patients, families, nurses and doctors. Truly a celebration for all!