“Ring The Bell”

You have completed the challenge!

I am completely worn out from 6 months of cancer treatments and the increasing pain, fatigue, and debilitating side effects from chemo, hormone therapy, brachytherapy, and a month of daily IMRT radiation therapy treatments. But, the good news is that today marks the final day of my radiation treatments and I now move into a phase where the doctors are giving my body time to recover. I will remain on hormone therapy for the foreseeable future. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

 Consider this:  At many cancer clinics, there is a bell that patients can ring to mark the end of their treatments.

It is believed that this tradition began at MD Anderson in 1996. This is the story they tell on their website:

“A rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Irve Le Moyne, was undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer and told his doctor, Kian Ang, M.D., Ph.D., that he planned to follow a Navy tradition of ringing a bell to signify “when the job was done.” He brought a brass bell to his last treatment, rang it several times, and left it as a donation. It was mounted on a wall plaque in the Main Building’s Radiation Treatment Center with the inscription:

Ringing Out

Ring this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!

— Irve Le Moyne”

This tradition is played out in many cancer facilities throughout the country each day. There is no bell for me to ring – because they don’t follow this tradition at my cancer clinic.

But today marks another important milestone – a more important day to “Ring the Bell.” We have completed the #Psalm34Challenge. Today on our last 81-mile round trip drive to the cancer center and back home, Marian, Krista, and I will recite the entire Psalm and thank the LORD that He has allowed us to accomplish this goal.

We will thank the Lord that you have joined us on this journey. Thank you for all of the encouragement you have been to me along the way. When you complete the challenge, please visit this page and write a comment telling us that you have completed the challenge that we might rejoice with you. When you do it will “Ring the Bell” – notifying us of your comment.

I thank the LORD that I have had companions with me during my 1,863 miles of travel. I thank the LORD for Krista and Marian who have been with me every day of my journey, and for David Robertson who also joined me or who blessed us with his presence at home. I am grateful for Luke Robertson for his help on our website posts. And I thank Sharon Carey who wrote a personal note on a card to me every single day of my treatments to encourage me, cause me to sing, or share a verse of Scripture or two. To Jen Robertson, David Kodur, and William Carey – thank you for giving up time with your spouses to let them minister to me. Great is your reward in Heaven. Thank you Daniel Robertson for your early morning commute phone calls checking up on how I am doing. Congratulations Christine Robertson for being the first one to finish the Challenge (as far as we know). You get to “ring the bell!”

I thank all of you who have prayed, sent cards, or private notes. And I thank Kathyrn Long who added such a creative touch to our verse for the day each day with her beautiful calligraphy work. “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).

It’s way too early to tell whether all of the cancer treatments will be successful in slowing or stopping the spread. I have been given some amazing opportunities to share the gospel with patients and staff and that is the main reason I have had to go through this trial. “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).

Just before leaving for my treatment today, I read Sharon’s final hand-written card to me. She wrote,

“This verse seemed the most appropriate to write to you not because this is the end of your life, but because it is a ‘finishing’ verse. It speaks of ending well, of facing suffering and trials of life with the knowledge that it is all for something much, much greater and we look forward to it. To me, it is an encouraging passage that is also challenging.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NKJV)
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

“Congratulations on being DONE after today! We are so thankful that you decided to (have them throw everything at you, including the) “kitchen sink” and fight this cancer!! The LORD is with you, and so are we all!”

Believers, keep fighting the good fight! Finish well! Keep the faith! Look to the reward!

And when you finish the #Psalm34Challenge – don’t forget to “Ring the Bell!”