September 11, 2012 - Strecker Bell Donation Rings in New Life

Marietta Memorial Hospital’s Strecker Cancer Center recently received a unique gift from a former cancer patient. After receiving his successful treatment at Strecker, Mark, along with his wife Karen Morris, decided to donate a large bell for cancer patients to ring after they finish their treatments and begin their new lives.
When Mark, 45, started to become ill, he went to his family physician to further investigate why the sickness was becoming more aggressive. In December of 2009, Mark was diagnosed with a rare, yet curable type of cancer called Mediastinal Seminoma, which represents less than 5% of all germ cell cancer diagnoses.
“I had become very sick,” Mark said. “I kept coughing and was always tired. My doctor wanted to look into it more. After getting a biopsy done, that’s when we found out.”
Mark’s treatment began at Strecker on January 5, 2010 and lasted for more than nine weeks. His treatment was successful. Mark says he feels really fortunate for coming such a long way and having a positive diagnosis. “It’s remarkable that such a small community like Marietta could give such great treatment,” Mark said. “Most people don’t realize how lucky we are to have these resources available so close to home—I can’t imagine having to travel far away for treatments being that sick.”
The idea of donating a bell to Strecker derived from another cancer center in their hometown of Indiana. Mark’s sister-in-law was going through treatment there. “My wife’s sister became ill,” Mark said. “After dealing with treatments, Karen went to visit her sister for her last day of chemotherapy and that’s when she first heard about the bell and what it meant to patients.”
Mark and Karen Morris wanted to offer the same renewing experience to be available for the cancer patients in Marietta. Mark said he wanted the “dig in and persevere” symbolic act of walking out of the last treatment and ringing the bell.
“It’s an emotional experience,” Mark said. “The symbolic act of walking out and ringing the bell truly solidifies that this is the end of cancer and a start of a new life. It’s time to get better. Cancer does not define who you are, it cannot dictate your life because there are better things out there after you recover. The bell is symbolic of that process ending.”
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