Vickie Rings the Bell

Vickie, the Bell, her Certificate of Treatment Completion and I

A lovely brass bell sits near the entrance of the Moffitt Cancer Center Infusion Unit. When patients complete their course of chemotherapy treatments, they ring the bell to celebrate their bravery and their accomplishment.

Today is the day for which we have been waiting since Vickie discovered the lump near her groin at the beginning of July.

The final diagnosis of Stage three non-Hodgkins lymphoma came through in September, and from that day to this, the doctor’s words, “Treatable and curable,” have been the lifeline to which we have clung.

But no one said the journey to today would be easy, and Hurricane Ian certainly complicated things, but here we are.

If there is a symbol for Vickie’s journey, it is the Sanibel Strong necklace I gave her for Chanukah. Our friend Scot Congress of Congress Jewelers designed. It features the Sanibel lighthouse, a beacon of hope for all of us who live on the island.

Now she has completed the last (we hope and pray) of six chemotherapy infusions. We cannot say enough good things about her doctor in Fort Myers, and the staff here at Moffit Cancer Center.

The infusion time becomes seemingly shorter because Vickie plays Mah Jong with her close friends, Caren and Elissa.

Each of our three children interrupted his and her busy life to visit with us and help,out in different ways. We are also very grateful for the love and support we have felt everyday from our Bat Yam family and the loving , supportive messages that have come through on social media.

The unsung hero is Vickie’s smartphone! How did we ever exist before those things were invented. They keep Vickie connected to friends and family around the world and to innumerable sources of knowledge and entertainment.

When the treatment ended, her nurse for today, a lovely Indian woman named Sushila, gathered as many of the infusion center staff as she could collar and announced, Vickie is going to ring the bell.

The inscription under the bell stresses the importance of savoring every victory in the fight against cancer — big or small. 

For Vickie this was a big one.

With tears in her eyes and a huge smile on her face, Vickie gave that bell several resounding clangs!

She will have PET scan a month to tell us — we pray — what the last one a month ag ago revealed: no evidence of cancer. Then, of course, she will be monitored regularly, and if all goes well, she will need no further treatments.

Gradually, then, her strength will return, her hair will return, our house will become habitable and life will,go on as it did before cancer and before Hurricane Ian.

What a wonderful possibility to contemplate!

I welcome you to follow me on Twitter: @rabbifuchs6