Susan Richelieu fought her way through chemotherapy, and she wanted to celebrate her strength and resilience when her treatment ended at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise. She celebrated that milestone on July 10 by ringing the bell that she donated.
Many cancer treatment centers have a bell that patients can ring to celebrate the end of their treatment. Richelieu remembered seeing a photo of a friend who rang a bell in Utah to mark her treatment’s completion, so when she went to St. Luke’s MSTI to begin her chemotherapy, she asked where the bell was located.
Richelieu’s nurse explained that they didn’t have a bell.“When I later told my husband that there was no brass bell, he said, ‘we will buy them one before you finish,’” she said.
Richelieu, who lives in Mountain Home, was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer following a routine mammogram in February. When her friends heard she was planning to buy a bell for MSTI, they joined in to help her raise the money.
Proceeds from her “paint and sip” birthday party in May were donated to the bell fund. They ended up raising $600, so in addition to purchasing a $200 bell, Richelieu was able to donate $400 to MSTI.
“It gives you something finite. When I finish this, I get to ring the bell,” Richelieu said. “For me, knowing that I will be done, but the bell will live in perpetuity, is just a great feeling as well.”Bells are in place at some other St. Luke’s MSTI locations to help patients celebrate the conclusion of treatment. When Boise’s previous bell stopped working it was never replaced.
Richelieu searched online to find a large brass bell, and eventually found one she knew would be perfect. It was attached to a wooden plaque that contained these words:
“Ring this bell three times well to celebrate this day. This course is run, my treatment done, now I am on my way.”
Chereen Langrill was formerly a communications coordinator for St. Luke’s Health System.