There has been a lot going on the last few days, but for this post I just want to share our amazing day on Thursday when Caleb got to ring the bell at Tampa General Hospital!
The tradition of ringing a bell after the completion of chemo treatments is done at many hospitals. However, St. Jude has a slightly different tradition with the “No More Chemo” party (they don’t have a bell, they throw confetti). Since we didn’t do all his chemo at TGH I hadn’t thought about Caleb ringing the bell. But, Tampa General has the most amazing Child Life team that we have gotten to know very well and they asked if Caleb was going to ring the bell. I thought sure why not, he would love that! And he’s been through so much we celebrate every little milestone, so I told them let’s do it!
Even though we did his high dose chemo at St. Jude, the team at Tampa General has been instrumental in keeping Caleb safe since we got home. While he finished his 6 rounds of chemo in Tampa, we have been going to TGH twice a week since we moved home in July. Between count checks, allergic reactions, fevers, and hospital stays, we grew very close to this team of doctors and nurses. I never thought he would need so much care when we moved back to Tampa, but I am so thankful these wonderful people were put in Caleb’s life to take care of him!
Caleb’s “Ring The Bell” party was a happy day for everyone because his doctors, nurses, the child life team, and everyone who got to know Caleb was able to come celebrate with him. And most importantly, our family and some close friends were also able to join us. We wish everyone could have been with us in Memphis but it just wasn’t possible, so this was a way for everyone to celebrate his end of chemo together.
The Child Life team just went above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. They told me they had some things taken care of, and I knew about one surprise, but I didn’t know about everything. We walked in and the playroom was decorated all in Batman theme, and there was also a Batman cake. I had no idea they were going to do all of that! It was absolutely amazing!
And the biggest surprise (that I knew about but didn’t tell my family ha ha!) was that Batman himself was there to be a part of the celebration! When Batman walked in Caleb just went crazy. He had a huge smile on his face, and just kept pointing at Batman saying “Tyler, it’s Batman! Batman is here!” It was so awesome! So the boys got to talk to him and take a lot of pictures with him. And of course everyone in the family wanted their picture with Batman too. It was so fun!
Then it was time for Caleb to ring the bell. There is a little poem we read right before he rang it and I could barely keep it together. It says “Ring this bell 3 times well, it’s toll to clearly say… My treatment’s done, the course is run, and I am on my way!” Then with a lot of enthusiasm Caleb rang the bell. And let me tell you, when I say he rang the bell, he RANG THE BELL! I thought he would be a little timid or I’d have to show him what to do, but he grabbed the rope and went to town ha ha! (See Video at the end of the post!)
His face was beaming the entire party and that’s what meant the most to me. He deserves the celebration and he deserves to have fun, and I am so glad he enjoyed his special party. As if things couldn’t get any better, we ate cake and Caleb opened some presents too. It was such a special time.
I kept looking around the playroom which was filled with so much joy that day, and thought about how sad and hard some days were in there… especially during the week long stay we had. I would take him in there to play and just pray for the day to pass quickly. I spent my birthday playing with him in there, and when friends brought dinner on my birthday we ate in there. But those weren’t the happiest times for me, and finally getting to celebrate this milestone in that room meant a lot. As we walked out the hallway past the inpatient rooms we spent so many nights in I had flashbacks, but I just silently said a prayer for all of the kids who still have to be there, and also prayed that we won’t ever spend another night there!
So like I said, there are a lot of other things going on I will cover in another post but I just wanted to share how special this moment was. It felt good to let loose and actually be truly excited and happy about something. You never know what the future holds, so every little milestone deserves celebration. I felt so much love in that room and I know Caleb did too. To our friends and family who were able to be there with us it meant so much. And for those who want to see the video here it is!