Sam’s ring­ing in the good times

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - RUBY MACANDREW

The gen­tle chim­ing of a bell never sounded so good for Sam Hop­kins.

Af­ter more than three years of leukaemia treat­ment, 15-year-old Sam is cancer-free. He marked the con­clu­sion of his long jour­ney yes­ter­day by be­com­ing the first per­son to ring Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal’s new end-of-treat­ment bell.

‘‘It feels un­real. This treat­ment has been part of my life for the last three years so fin­ish­ing it is awe­some,’’ he said.

Pae­di­atric on­col­ogy so­cial worker Lor­raine Tet­ley was in­spired to in­stall the bell af­ter see­ing them used in Can­ter­bury and around the world.

‘‘It’s a sym­bol of hope for the other fam­i­lies who are just start­ing their jour­ney but also recog­ni­tion for what the fam­ily have been through be­cause it’s long and it’s hard,’’ she said.

‘‘Ev­ery­one around the whole ward can hear it and know that this is the end of their jour­ney.’’

The Child Cancer Foun­da­tion, which of­ten part­ners with hos­pi­tals to pro­vide sup­port ser­vices, funded the new bell. It is the sec­ond in this coun­try and the 91st world­wide.

United King­dom res­i­dent Tracey Pay­ton has been in­stru­men­tal in dis­tribut­ing these bells across the globe, us­ing crowd-fund­ing and part­ner­ing with chari- ties to get them out there.

‘‘We aim to of­fer an end-oftreat­ment bell to every hos­pi­tal where chil­dren are re­ceiv­ing on­go­ing treat­ment,’’ she said

‘‘It’s not just a bell – it’s a sym­bol of hope; of feeling like you are winning the bat­tle.’’

While the ma­jor­ity of Sam’s cancer treat­ment took place in Welling­ton, he first heard of the bell con­cept dur­ing a brief stint at the Chil­dren’s Hae­ma­tol­ogy On­col­ogy Cen­tre in Christchurch.

‘‘I remember hear­ing the bell a cou­ple of times and the staff singing a happy, end-of-chemo song as well,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a cool tra­di­tion that is start­ing here.’’

Ring­ing the bell was not the only mile­stone Sam reached on Fri­day. The oc­ca­sion was also an op­por­tu­nity to fin­ish what has be­come an im­pres­sive neck­lace.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing you do ba­si­cally gets you a bead, sym­bol­is­ing some­thing hard or a strug­gle you went through dur­ing your treat­ment,’’ he ex­plained.

The beads, of which Sam has close to 1000, rep­re­sent each in­di­vid­ual treat­ment as well as spe­cial achieve­ments such as nights spent in hos­pi­tal.

‘‘I now have a pur­ple heart, which is the end-of-treat­ment one so it feels awe­some to fi­nally fin­ish the jour­ney.’’

PHOTOS: KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Cancer survivor Sam Hop­kins, 15, con­cluded his three-year bat­tle with leukemia by ring­ing the new end-of-treat­ment bell at Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal.

Some of the treat­ment beads Sam col­lected dur­ing his ill­ness. A pur­ple heart recog­nises the end of a long bat­tle.

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