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Three rings of a bell at the Seacoast Cancer Center – Portsmouth marked an end of current treatments for patient Gavin Donaldson and the beginning of a special tradition at the Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Pease campus – a survivor celebration bell.
“Today is a celebration of sorts of getting through a 6-week chemo and radiation treatment,” Donaldson said. “I’m very pleased to have done it with such a wonderful group of people at such a wonderful facility. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Staff members who were a part of Donaldson’s treatment course gathered around the bell, which is now a permanent fixture at the main entrance, to commemorate its installation and celebrate Donaldson’s milestone.
A sign underneath the bell from a World War II ship out of London reads, “This bell rings in honor of every patient who walks through our doors. Patients at any stage of their cancer are invited to ring the bell. Celebrate significant milestones like a birthday, an anniversary, improved results or finishing treatment. When the bell rings may we all remember the ways we celebrate life beyond cancer.”
For many, the inscription is more than just words.
“It’s not just for patients finishing treatment, but also for them to simply feel good about something or celebrate when they get a good result. Every single moment, every day is a celebration, and I believe that’s how our patients want to lead their lives,” said Dr. Arul Mahadevan, medical director of radiation oncology at the Seacoast Cancer Center.
He discovered the bell in a flea market in Bangladesh while on a medical mission trip, where he was teaching cancer diagnosis and treatment, and arranged for it to be transported to the U.S.
“It allows our patients and their families to celebrate any small milestone or anything special that’s happening,” said Michael Meserve, Director of Survivorship & Wellness at the Seacoast Cancer Center. “The timing is significant as we wrap up fundraising for our Seacoast Cancer 5K, which funds important aspects of our Survivorship and Wellness Program that mean so much to our patients.”
“I think everyone that goes through this, it’s a sense of accomplishment and completion at some stage, wherever that stage may be in your process,” Donaldson said. “There’s a quote that I always remember, ‘Get busy dying or get busy living.’ And I’d rather get busy living.”
To learn more about Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s Seacoast Cancer Center visit https://www.wdhospital.org/wdh/services-and-specialties/seacoast-cancer-treatment-center.
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