Anne Kelly rang in a new chapter of her life on Monday.
Surrounded by family and her healthcare team at our Walker Family Cancer Centre, Anne struck the Celebration Gong to mark her last chemotherapy treatment. She is the 2,000th person to strike the gong, which is a symbol representing the journey to wellness the patient has just completed and the new journey they have begun.
Anne recently completed her 30th chemotherapy treatment.
“It was like all these 10 months of tears, sadness and worry just kind of had a nice finishing closing piece,” says Anne, who learned last July that she had a re-occurrence of breast cancer. “That part is over. I don’t have to think about chemo again. It was a joyful sound.”
Anne and her husband, Greg, credit the cancer centre team for guiding them along their journey, including the nursing and patient registration team, her social worker Donna Cook and her oncologist, Dr. Janice Giesbrecht.
“They’re angels. They all show so much compassion and care,” says Anne. “But they also make a very scary day really light-hearted. It’s not scary in that time. They make you feel at ease. You put your whole life into their hands and they take care of you.”
Greg adds: “They’re the best of the best. You know if there is an explanation that is required, you are getting people who are experts in their field.”
“They’re angels. They all show so much passion and care.”
Watching Anne strike the gong was Deb Pogoda, a Registered Nurse in Chemotherapy who was part of her care team.
“It was so nice to see her celebrate that she’s finished this part of her journey and that we were able to help her with that. For us, the reason we do this every day is because of the patients. It’s always all about the patient story for us.”
Deb, who has witnessed hundreds of people strike the Celebration Gong, says patients are inspiring.
“When they come in and they smile and they say they’re feeling fine, even though you know they’re probably not. We think, ‘How could I ever complain about anything when you know the patients are coming with that brave face.’ They’re here to fight, so we’re here to help them fight.”