A seven year old boy who completed his treatment for cancer, returned to the hospital ward which cared for him whilst he underwent chemotherapy treatment to unveil a symbol of hope for other young patients.
Ollie Ridley, along with his parents Sian and Steve and four year old brother Joseph, visited Tunbridge Wells Hospital today (Tuesday 10 March) to reveal the end of treatment bell which has been installed on Woodlands Unit for children to ring at the end of their medical treatment.
The family agreed to sponsor the bell, which was provided by the charity End of Treatment Bells, after Ollie suggested the hospital should have one like the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton where he also received treatment.
Mum Sian, 43, from Biggin Hill, said: “After Ollie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in February 2016 his treatment was alternated between the Royal Marsden in Sutton and Pembury with community nurses also visiting him at home. His treatment lasted for three years and three months and during that time Ollie would be admitted to Tunbridge Wells Hospital every time he had a temperature of 37.5°/38° so we spent many nights under the care of the wonderful staff on Woodlands and Hedgehog wards.
“When Ollie’s last dose of IV chemotherapy was given on Woodlands Unit in April 2019 the nurses kindly celebrated by ringing hand bells on the ward for him but he still had daily chemotherapy at home which meant he had to wait to ring the end of treatment bell at the Royal Marsden.
“He finally got to ring the bell on 11 July 2019 at the Royal Marsden after having surgery to remove his portacath but he told my husband and I that it would have been nice if he could have rang the bell at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital as that was where he had his last hospital chemotherapy given and all his nurses who looked after him every time he was poorly were there, and now his dream has come true.”
Although Ollie is now in remission he has to undergo regular health checks – something which will continue for the rest of his life.
The Year 2 pupil, who attends Oaklands Primary Academy in Biggin Hill, said: “I’m so happy the bell is now on Woodlands Unit. I really hope it helps other children look forward to their treatment finishing.”
Paediatric Ward Manager Michelle Wickens said: “We are extremely grateful to the Ridley family for the donation of the end of treatment bell.
“It is really important to mark the end of treatment as an important part of their lives. Children who receive cancer chemotherapy or other long term treatments, and their families have conquered many obstacles through diagnosis and treatment, ringing the bell is a symbol of their journey and the start of the next part of their lives.”
During their visit the family also donated a number of items to nursing staff on the ward including a teddy bear wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Ollie’s Angels’ on it, a radio, microwave, biscuits and coffee.