• ashirk@gmail.com
  • Kijabe, Kenya
on celebration. . .

on celebration. . .

As our oncology service at Kijabe has grown under my friend Sarah, we have had more and more kids finishing their chemotherapy and we send them out into the world cancer free in a country where 80% of the time, the diagnosis is a death sentence.

But it has seemed anticlimactic. We walk with them, cry with them, fight with them, cheer big and small victories with them, and then they disappear into the world, walking out of the hospital like it was just any other day.

So last year, when I saw a video of a child ringing a bell and being sung to somewhere in the Midwest, I threw the idea out to Sarah of doing it for our kids. Our friend Michael has some extra trunks to come back in March, so I ordered a brass dinner bell, the biggest I could find and afford, and sent it to him to bring back.

David ran in the day before he left for America with his drill and put it on the wall. Then, we waited for the first time we could celebrate.

The next day, Shantel came back for her follow up after her last round of chemo 8 weeks ago. Her follow up numbers had been borderline, but her CT scans had been good, so they were coming – either to be told they were done with treatment, or to start second line chemotherapy.

I cannot imagine mom’s stress. . .it had either worked, or it had not. We are coming back every week again for months – through nausea and pokes and spinal taps and infections and scans and hair loss and fear. Or, we can dance out of here.

When the numbers came back beautiful, we scrambled to find the rope. Michael, our clinical officer, didn’t want to wait any longer, so he attached his stethoscope, and Shantel rang the bell with beautiful determination while we all gathered around her. Then, we sang . . . she beamed shyly.

I cried. Sarah cried. Her mama cried. The nurses that I pulled from ICU rounds to come celebrate with her asked me why we were singing, and then they cried too. . .

We shared the video with our team, and then Mardi shared it on the hospital twitter account. Apparently everyone is celebrating with Shantel now, because 50,000 views and 1500 shares later the Kenyan news has come, the newspaper has come, and Sarah’s phone is ringing off the hook.

More children will be treated and loved and shown grace in their darkest hour in Kijabe, all because a little girls ringing a bell announced what we have known for a long time: That in this place, He does impossible things with great Love.

Gathering Everyone. . .
Singing. . .

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