July 27, 2015 | by Denise Heady
Upon completing her final round of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer earlier this month, Maria Velazquez-McIntyre, a 51-year-old Antelope Valley resident, celebrated the milestone by giving other patients a symbol of hope – a Survivor Bell.
The bell may look ordinary, but for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, ringing it is far from routine. The ringing of the bell signifies the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free of cancer.
“The bell represents hope and a sense of accomplishment,” said Velazquez-McIntyre, who donated one bell to the Antelope Valley clinic and another to the main City of Hope campus in Duarte. “My goal is to give someone else going through chemotherapy that hope. If I can ring that bell, so can you.”
The bell sits on a plaque with a special quote: "Ring this bell three times well, its toll to clearly say, my treatment is done, the course has run, and I am on my way!"
The gift of the bell was inspired by a similar gift from a naval officer treated at a different institution for head and neck cancer some years ago. During his time with the Navy, officers would ring a bell to signal the end of a mission, so the officer decided to bring that tradition to his own hospital so patients like himself could celebrate a mission completed.
Velazquez-McIntyre brought the tradition to City of Hope, not only as a thank you to her doctors and the staff who cared for her, but to encourage other cancer patients. She dedicated the bell to her father, who passed away from colon cancer last year.
Doctors and staff understand the significance of the gift.
“It’s important for everyone to have hope,” said Nimit Sudan, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of medical oncology at City of Hope | Antelope Valley. “You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring so it’s the only way to get through every day of your life.”
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.