Campaign gives hope to cancer patients

Melanie Teixeira rings the symbolic bell while Campaigning for Cancer CEO Lauren Pretorius hands over the box to Dr George Loots.

At the age of 58, life was great for Melanie Teixeira, until she discovered a small pea-size lump in her neck in 2015, which turned out to be nodal marginal zone lymphoma and while the road ahead is a long one, she celebrated her scheduled last treatment with a symbolic ringing of the bell.

For many, ringing a bell may not seem that significant but to cancer patients it symbolises a battle won, a new journey ahead.

Across the world, ringing a bell on a patient’s last day of treatment to mark their victory over cancer has become common practice in treatment facilities.

Since her diagnosis, Ms Teixeira a member of Campaigning for Cancer, had been receiving treatment at Solway Radiation Oncologists in Bellville and she saw it fit to donate a bell to this facility.

Ms Teixeira’s family joined her at the facility on Friday February 16, where she rang the bell four times, as a symbol of hope, victory, strength and recovery.

“Ringing the bell doesn’t mean it is the end but it is important to celebrate those small victories as it brings hope,” she said.

Ms Teixeira, from Table View, started treatment at Solway in August 2015 after being diagnosed with stage-4 lymphoma, and while it is not curable, she continues to live in hope. She joined Campaigning for Cancer in 2016.

“On the August 6, I started chemotherapy and immunotherapy at Solway House. I had to wait until after the third treatment to see if my cancer was responding to treatment. Two and a half years on and so much has happened. I have completed eight rounds of chemotherapy and 18 rounds of immunotherapy,” she said.

Her last round of immunotherapy will be in January 2019.

“I live for each day. I never take anything for granted. My family are my life. My passion is to make a difference in the lives of people who are less fortunate than me,” said Ms Teixeira.

Campaigning for Cancer is an advocacy organisation that was formed in 2008 to give South African patients and those affected by cancer a voice.

Campaign CEO Lauren Pretorius said they hoped to have a bell in all treatment facilities across the country.

The roll-out started in Gauteng and will now move to the Eastern Cape, followed by KwaZulu-Natal.

To date, they have donated 50 bells. “The sound of victory will ring throughout 2018 as we hope to ensure that each treatment facility is fitted with a #ring4cancer bell, at no cost to the facility or patients. Getting through cancer treatment is a big deal and it needs to be celebrated,” said Ms Pretorius.

“Having bells in patient’s treatment facilities is a constant reminder to patients how close they are to the finish line, restoring determination that they may naturally lose along the way as cancer treatment is a gruelling, long and hard, a journey that not only affects the patient but also their family, friends and healthcare providers.”

Patients are encouraged to capture their moment of victory.

Once a patient has rung the bell four times they can upload a photo or video to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, using the hashtag #ring4cancer and tagging @campaign4cancer.