Cancer is everyone’s nightmare, but especially when it afflicts children. I was deeply moved when I read this week one mum’s journey of love & tears, struggle & hope. Let me share it
“In the oncology clinic, there is an old-fashioned brass bell hanging on the wall. It’s called the Celebration Bell and when it’s someone’s last day at clinic they get to ring the bell with all their might to celebrate that their battle with cancer is over.
One day as Ian and I (mum) went into clinic there was a girl with no hair, about 8 or 9 years old, ringing that bell. It put a smile on everyone’s face. Her parents were watching, her Mum with tears in her eyes. The staff stood around clapping. It was such a special moment to witness. Oh, how I am looking forward to when our turn comes, and we get to help Ian ring that bell! It will be such a great feeling not to have to come to hospital anymore and to know that his cancer treatment is finished and the cancer is gone.
This ritual reminds me of another celebration. As wonderful as it will be to ring that bell and say goodbye to Ian’s cancer, there will be another occasion that will be even more wonderful and even more worth celebrating. As Christians, we believe that one day Jesus will return. And on that day, everything will be made new, the way it was intended to be. There will be no more cancer, or any sickness. There will be no more sadness, no more tiredness. All the bad and evil and wicked and awful things will be gone, only the good will remain. I don’t know if there will be a bell to ring, but I do know that it will be wonderful, something really worth celebrating and I’m really looking forward to that day!
There’s another side to the Celebration Bell. As I reflected on the girl and her happy family, I looked around the clinic and realised that not everyone gets to ring that bell. There are many families who walk out that door for the last time with no hope, and heavy hearts. Oh how I feel for them! It must be so hard to watch others ring that bell, with a slim chance of getting to ring it yourself. To keep fighting, to go through the treatment, the side effects, hoping to beat the odds. How gut-wrenching to go through all that, to then have the meeting with the Doctor where he says “I’m sorry but there’s nothing else we can do”. I ache for those families.
It is my hope and prayer that those families know about the final celebration. I hope they know that there is hope beyond a cure. That one day there will be no more cancer, no more suffering, no more pain. That death doesn’t have to be the end. That they can see their child again. And that they take hold of that hope for themselves.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
Note – Ian (not his real name) is just 10 months old, and lives with his family in Western Sydney where his father works as an Anglican minister.
Your brother in Christ, Graham Crew