I’d be waiting for my daily treatment and ‘ding dong ding’, off it would go. All us folks in the waiting room would cheer and clap our hands, some of us would get a tear in our eyes. You see, the bell signifies the end of our treatment journey, when the bell is rung it is done so by a fellow patient who has completed their course of treatment. It’s beautiful to see and feel; it would send a flood of emotion through me and I would watch the person walk past us to leave, often smiling and crying. One lady, choking on tears shouted to us in the waiting room ‘It will be your turn soon’.
This is what scared me, my turn. Obviously making this ding dong of a statement to a quiet group of strangers is a tad embarrassing for us shy folks who are trying to be inconspicuous. However it was more what the bell signified that scared me, the end of cancer treatment. What every person ringing that bell hopes with every fiber of their being is that is the end of their cancer.
I feel my fear is best described through a mountain analogy. To me, the bell is the peak of a mountain. One which on reaching, I have achieved my initial goal. The past 6 months have all been about reaching this goal, our lives have orientated around it, underneath the smiles and laughter, it consumed us. But it gave me a plan, mapped out a route to achieve the goal. On standing up here, on the peak, I can’t help but scour the horizon through the mist for higher peaks, hoping there are none. I also realise at some point I have to climb down this mountain through this mist to the other-side. Only I don’t have a map this time, it’s all down to me to make my path and make it a good one.
It was with excited anticipation of this path ahead that I rang the bell. I went alone to my last appointment and was greeted by 6 of the Radiotherapy Technicians. They are some gorgeously lovely people, they whooped as they screwed me down for my last treatment and presented me with a ‘Graduation’ certificate on completion. One of the Doctors, who had looked after me, left me a post it note wishing me all the best. That little note will always mean a lot to me. Once I had been checked over, I left for the bell. Armed with my radiation mask and 3 of the lovely Technicians for support, I made my dong. Actually rather loudly, I smiled and walked through the waiting room. No tears. I surprise myself often; at my own vulnerability to certain things, mainly people and my strength with others.
So here I stand at the top of that mountain, planning a beautiful route down and trying not to worry about any future mountains hiding in the mist.