For Pam O’Donnell, ringing a bell on Sept. 17 not only signified her courage over the last four months, it also symbolized her hope for the future.
O’Donnell, a patient of Bayonne Medical Center's Radiation and Oncology Center, rang the "End of Treatment" bell because her care for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, was now complete.
“The facility is amazing, the staff is amazing,” O’Donnell said of Dr. Thomas Mazzoni and the oncology center. “I couldn’t have gotten through this without everyone’s support. So thank you to everyone.”
O’Donnell had been diagnosed with the cancer on May 10 of this year, the day before Mother’s Day, and had been devastated. Months of several types of treatment ensued, including chemotherapy and radiation, culminating in her final visit on Sept. 4.
Mayor James Davis said being at the ceremony had special meaning for him, having been friends with the O’Donnells for years.
“To me, this is a great day for Pam to finish her treatment and move forward,” Davis said. “And, I am here for her.”
City Council President Sharon Nadrowski said the city was fortunate to have an oncology center of this caliber to help someone like O’Donnell fight her cancer without having to go far.
“This is a great advantage for the people of Bayonne,” she said. “I’m glad that Pam got through this, and got to ring the bell.”
O’Donnell stressed that she is not out of the woods yet; while she and her doctor are optimistic, only the future – the coming weeks and months – will tell the whole story of just how successful she was in fending off the disease. She expects to know if she is cancer free, or if her cancer is in remission, by Thanksgiving.
O’Donnell’s bell, mounted on a plaque in the center’s waiting room, will hopefully be a positive force for others. She has donated it to encourage other patients already coming through the oncology center’s doors, and those who come through in the future.
“This bell can be rung when a patient has completed his or her treatments,” said Allyson Miller, vice president of marketing and business development for CarePoint Health, BMC’s parent company. “The goal is to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have successfully gone through treatment, as well as to bring hope and inspiration to patients who are currently undergoing cancer treatments.”
When O’Donnell rang the bell for herself, she inaugurated the “End of Treatment" bell for all others seeking hope.