A Holywell youngster celebrated his birthday in style by becoming the first child to sound a new end of treatment bell at Glan Clwyd Hospital’s children’s unit.
Four-year-old Edward Kelly marked the end of his care at the hospital by ringing the new bell for paediatric patients completing their oncology treatment.
Edward has completed his course of treatment after being diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumour in October 2018.
Following almost a year of treatment consisting of surgery, high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant his subsequent MRI scans show no evidence of tumour or disease and he was able to mark the end of his course of treatment on his birthday, on October 9 almost 12 months to the day since his original diagnosis.
The new bell, which has been paid for thanks to fundraising from families of children receiving treatment for cancer, was installed to help young patients and their families feel some degree of closure following the conclusion of their treatment.
Childhood cancer patients from North Wales receive their main treatment at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, while also accessing supportive care at Glan Clwyd, Wrexham Maelor or Ysbyty Gwynedd.
Treatment locally includes IV therapies, blood transfusions, and emergency care for the side affects caused by chemotherapy treatment.
While Edward’s course of treatment has now concluded, he’ll continue to receive regular MRI scans over the coming years.
Edward was joined on his birthday at Glan Clwyd by his mum Catherine, dad Shaune, his siblings Dylan and Edith grandparents Carol and Bernard, and staff who have helped him through his treatment.
Edward’s mum Catherine said: “Edward spent a lot of time here in between his Chemotherapy treatments at Alder Hey – on the few times he was allowed home, he would come here on a daily basis for infusions and other care, if there was an slight increase in his temperature he would have to come in to hospital immediately to start IV antibiotics”.
“Even though we were at home, we were never really at home properly. He still had to come into hospital, and here became a sort of second home in a way, we were here every single day.”
“Being able be here to ring the end of treatment bell is a bittersweet feeling. It’s wonderful to be able to mark the end of his treatment, even though we know he’ll still got a long way to go in terms of a complete cure for Edward.
“There are a lot of children who don’t get a chance to mark this with their families, so we’re really grateful for that. It’s great to be able to have his wider family here to mark the end of his treatment.
“It’s significant for children to be able to do this, it makes them realise there hopefully won’t be any more medicine and hopefully not as many treatments and checks.
“That acknowledgement, especially when they’re little, is really important to help them realise they’re at the end of this particular course of treatment. For little ones, ringing a bell and having a little ceremony is much easier to understand than being sat down and told there’s no more treatment.”
Elen Moseley, Paediatric Oncology specialist nurse, who has supported Edward and his family through his treatment, said: “We decided to get the bell after several requests from families of children currently on cancer treatment.
“The families felt that they ring the bell in Alder Hey which is great but they are unable to have closure at Glan Clwyd.
“They would like to be celebrate the end of treatment with the staff here and say thank you for the support and care given. We are very excited to have had the bell.”
The bell was provided by the End of Treatment Bells charity. The charity supplies end of treatment bells to healthcare organisations across the UK to help people mark the conclusion of courses of cancer treatment.
As well as accessing treatment at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Edward and his family received further support from a Clic Sargent Social Worker, whose role includes emotional and practical support for families affected by childhood cancers.