This week’s sober moment: Hearing someone ring the chemo bell at the Kirkland Clinic in Birmingham.
I didn’t notice the bell on our way in, though it is mounted to the wall just inside the door to the Infusion Therapy waiting room. Infusion Therapy is a kind word for chemo. As I sat waiting for my friend to begin her 14th treatment, the bell clanged and the overfull waiting room broke into applause and weary but genuine smiles.
I turned to my friend and she explained. When someone finishes chemo, when they have their last infusion, they ring that bell on their way out as a declaration of victory.
I don’t know what it is to receive a dose of Red Devil. But I can attest to the hope that that bell gave me. And if it gave me hope, what must it do for the drafted soldiers, there under duress and unable to leave. The room, a little alternate world, was so full, and stayed full the whole time. Old and young, rich and poor, black and white, cancer has no preferences, only a huge, endless appetite.
But the bell said, “It is finished!”
So many of my friends are sitting in life’s Infusion Therapy unit right now. One buried her son Saturday. One went back in to emergency surgery after a mastectomy. One is preparing for her child’s surgery with an unknown outcome. One friend’s child is suffering unexplained seizures. Another’s child is fighting a decade-long battle with a seemingly unsolvable brain fluid leak. Another is in the foreign country called Divorce In Your 50s. And, of course, my dear friend on treatment 14 of a medicine so toxic that the nurse who administers it has to wear a hazmat suit and which brings side effects that take her right up to the edge of endurance and make her watching friends holler along with Job ‘Stop! Enough!’
But then, I hear that chemo bell. I hear it as a promise and a declaration of victory. On the cross Jesus suffered cancer and the Red Devil.
And then he rang the chemo bell and said, “It is finished!”
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.