This past year, many patients have marked milestones in their cancer treatment by ringing the “Bell of Hope” at BC Cancer centres across the province a symbolic gesture to recognize what they have been through as they embark on their next step.
It is also a moment to celebrate the many family, friends and healthcare heroes who support and care for BC Cancer patients.
Of course, many cancer stories end differently: not with a bell-ringing celebration, but with a family left in sadness and grief.
When you make your donation today, please keep in your heart the people you would ring a bell for and honour this holiday season. Whether it’s someone currently facing cancer, a loved one who has sadly passed away or a healthcare hero at BC Cancer who works tirelessly to improve outcomes and save lives, your gift will have an enormous impact.
For 33-year-old Catherine Perka, two joyful memories of 2020 took place at BC Cancer Surrey, when she rang the Bell of Hope to mark the completion of her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Catherine’s cancer journey began in January 2019 when she started noticing some alarming lower digestive symptoms. The newlywed and her husband were expecting a baby and they were excited for the future.
But then her doctors found a mass in her rectum. The diagnosis came as a horrible shock: Stage III colorectal cancer.
Catherine and her husband were thrown into a world of unknowns. And they were devastated to learn they would need to terminate her pregnancy before she could begin treatment.
Catherine began a gruelling treatment plan which consisted of 25 rounds of radiation and chemo every day for five weeks, surgery to remove a section of her colon and insert an ileostomy pouch, six additional rounds of chemotherapy, and a second surgery to reverse the ileostomy.
Walking by the Bell of Hope with every treatment gave Catherine something to look forward to; it gave her a reason to be hopeful.
And when she finally rang that bell, she was surrounded by her family and her incredible healthcare team who cheered her on. In many ways, she was ringing the bell to celebrate all of them.
Catherine completed her treatment in April 2020 and soon after received the news that her scans showed no evidence of disease! She will continue to have regular check-ins with her medical team at BC Cancer over the next few years to make sure she stays healthy.
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