A 21-year-old celebrated beating cancer for the second time by ringing a bell delivered to her home as she couldn’t make it to the hospital to ring it due to COVID-19 restrictions.
During her long battle, Michelle, from Billericay, Essex, U.K., had dreamed of ringing her local hospital’s bell to signify the end of treatment.
But due to COVID-19 restrictions and Michelle being immunocompromised, in-person meetings had been rescheduled as phone calls, so Michelle would receive her all-clear chat at home.
Fortunately, Michelle’s girlfriend, Hannah Collinson, 23, had thought ahead by purchasing a bell online that was engraved with the date of her remission, January 12, 2021.
Michelle had no idea this surprise was coming, and in her family’s living room, having just finished her call with her doctor, Michelle was presented with the package.
As soon as she opened the box to see the bell, Michelle couldn’t contain her emotions, crying as she picked up the object.
Then, as her family shouted, “Ring that bell!”, Michelle proudly did just that, tears falling down her face as the weight of the moment took hold.
Michelle was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in August 2019, just a few weeks before she was set to move to California to study film at California State University, Long Beach.
The first round of cancer treatment went well, Michelle said, but in March 2020, having had an excellent response to chemotherapy and gone into remission, she was given the news that the cancer was back.
This time, Michelle’s cancer was much more aggressive, and with chemotherapy not working, she was given radiotherapy and CAR-T cell therapy, which, Michelle said, had about a 30 to 40 percent chance of success.
If the treatment had failed, Michelle would only have months left to live and unlikely to make it to her 22nd birthday.
It was this 18-month experience, Michelle said, that came out in her emotions when the bell was delivered.
She later uploaded the video online, where people left heartfelt comments and said they were supporting Michelle from all over the world.
Michelle said: “The moment you see on camera is an accumulation of 18 months’ worth of fear, exhaustion, sickness and dread being replaced by an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude.
“It was the most surreal and incredible feeling in the world, and by far my biggest accomplishment to be able to say I’ve come out the other side – twice!
“You don’t realise how strong you can be until you have to be.
“In a weird way, cancer brought out the very best in me, it encouraged me to grow and change and truly appreciate the value of life.
“This experience has actually taught me that everything happens for a reason, as I wouldn’t be the person I am today, with the perspective I have on life, without going through what I’ve been through.
“Life is all about perspective and how we choose to deal with adversity.”