A person ringing a large bell

Survivors Bell

Last updated: September 2021

A bell chimes after your run with cancer is over? GET OUT!!

I’ve only heard about this so-called tradition after one year living in the remission zone. I found it to be rather cool to have a slight celebration for beating cancer, or for the most part keeping it inactive. Honestly, the green-eyed monster came out just for a bit, as I wondered why the heck my hospital didn’t have this fanfare for me and my good news.

The bells will be ringing

So what is this joyous bell about? Well basically, it’s a way for the patient to celebrate by ranging of a big ole bell that marks the end of chemotherapy. I’m not sure of the history around this tradition, but after a bit of Google detective work, it seems to have been a growing tradition that started in the mid 90’s or so. I couldn’t really find any more about the origin, but it’s something that clearly has taken off over the years.

Well just as I was fascinated that there was such a tradition, and why I didn’t know about it sooner, I found out that it has also received a ton of complaints. It seems this measure of celebration is looked upon as being insensitive, I have gathered from those who are far from celebrating life without meds. Apparently, the complaints fell more towards those who ring the bell, as for some it was a reminder of distress rather than where they are in the present. I found that interesting as I would think there would be a happy outcome, I had to remind myself that cancer is the pits for us all but some of us are left with more trauma after the ordeal, and though the bell should be used as something as a positive experience, it’s really not.

Celebratory debate

I’ve written about that whole remission guilt factor prior, but I can imagine what it must feel like to be in treatment every week and hear a bell ring-a-linging. I guess that would drive me bonkers. While I’m fixed up to an IV pole, my patient mate up the corridor has gotten the best news ever. I think this goes back to being empathetic about the whole process, as so many of us don’t make it to this, and though they’re lifted with positive stories that help get themselves through, it’s that clear reminder of possibly not hitting the best labs this week or a glitch with that bone marrow sample.

The idea you’re able to walk away and celebrate is great, but a bell is not a given even after all that you’ve gone through. You made it and are still making it and this indeed is a long road with many peaks along the way. A ring for all in just making it through day by day!

Have you heard of this celebratory bell?

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile... when you feel like it.

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