During Christmas, you hear bells ringing as a sign of donations being placed in the red kettle for the Salvation Army. Bells ringing as Christmas carolers sing as shoppers go in and out of stores are signs of happy times. One of our favorite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life! In the movie, in the last scene, the best line is spoken: “Look daddy, teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings,” ZuZu Bailey
As an educator, bells always signaled it was time to move on to something else. The bell would ring, and everyone in unison would respond. When I became an administrator, I suggested we do away with bells. I wouldn’t say I liked the fact it seemed like our children were being trained like dogs to respond to bells, and our teachers did not have the authority to dismiss the class. We removed them and worked as teams to manage our time. It worked for us in our middle school of 300. We again tried it at a more significant element of 450 and then a middle school of 600. It works if you collaborate as a team.
I have heard a bell ring one time this week, and I have clapped to celebrate. Walking into the Mills Breast Cancer Center at Carle Clinic in Champaign, Illinois, can be overwhelming if you face cancer. However, the people inside help make you forget this horrible “C” word with their care, concern, curiosity about your life and celebrating you when you complete your treatments.
Cancer patients often ring a ceremonial bell to celebrate the end of their radiation treatment or chemotherapy. The now-widespread tradition was introduced in 1996 at MD Anderson when U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne was a patient with head and neck cancer receiving radiation treatments at MD Anderson League City.
It is a Navy tradition of ringing a bell to signify “when the job was done.” He brought a brass bell to his last treatment, rang it several times, and left it as a donation. It was mounted on a wall plaque in the Main Building’s Radiation Treatment Center with the inscription:
Ring this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
— Irve Le Moyne
My husband and his father were both in the United States Navy. This tradition makes me feel connected. Cancer is a lifelong word. It will always stay with you once it finds you. We will always celebrate the completion of the treatments and the achievement of providing ourselves with the freedom from Cancer in this season. Seasons change, as I have written many times before. Remember to do all you can to prevent, prepare and prosper in the seasons you are in. Many times, one treatment is completed, and another one will begin. We will celebrate each of them because each one matters! If we do not celebrate accomplishments, then we have lost our hope to complete any.