PETAL, MS (WDAM) - Bells have a symbolic meaning with a significance that spans from religion, school bells, church bells and even Christmas. This Christmas there are two bells that hold a very special meaning for a Petal man.
69-year-old Petal resident Charles Terrell recited a poem he said was a source of courage for him in 2016.
"Cancer is so limited. It cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot destroy peace. It cannot kill friendship," Terrell said.
He said in 2016 he found out he was the one out of 100,000 people in North America with a rare blood cancer.
"After three biopsies, I went to MD Anderson to confirm that I had Amyloidosis," Terrell said.
Terrel explained he faced the possibility of death with a will to run a race to remission, and the finish line ringing the bell at Hattiesburg Clinic's Hematology/Oncology Center.
"I thought a person had to be cured of cancer to ring this bell, but in reality, the person who donated it, whose loved one had breast cancer, it's there because the person was able to complete their treatment or regimen," Terrell said.
And now, Terrell can say he is that person. He rang in the news of his remission with his caregivers and family by his side on November 30.
Even though ringing the bell was a special day for Terrell, he couldn't help but think of other cancer patients.
"What about their story? What about their opportunity to ring a bell?" Terrell said.
Terrell and the doctors at the clinic know that the unfortunate reality is not everyone will be able to ring the bell at the hematology/oncology center, so he donated a new bell that will have a new purpose.
"That's when I began to be thinking about, 'is it possible that another bell could be made available so the person could use the bell to tell their story,'" Terrell said.
Terrell said a cancer patient can ring the new bell for strength, encouragement or to have a moment with loved ones. He said the when and why is a personal choice. Terrell's doctor agreed.
"I think it would be very important and encouraging to know they've reached some milestone and be able to mark that," Dr. Harry Butler said.
Terrell said through donating the bell, he hopes he helps patients remember the positives, no matter how their journey ends. He hopes they have a thankful spirit through their fight, and to remember what cancer cannot do.
"It cannot suppress memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot evade the soul. It cannot steal eternal life, and it cannot conquer the spirit," Terrell said.
If you want to ring this bell or know more about it contact the Hattiesburg Hematology/Ontology Center at 601-261-1700.