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The Story Behind The Story of the Cancer Bell

Andy Erickson (Click for large resolution)
Andy Erickson (Click for large resolution)

(Note – Before I tell this story, I want to make sure I don’t bury the whole reason I am writing this. Go watch Anndrea Anderson’s story on the cancer bell at Sanford on KDLT.com.)

Exactly one month ago my wife Crystal celebrated her final cancer treatment by ringing the bell in the radiology office at the Sanford Cancer Center. What we didn’t know at the time was the story behind the bell itself. Not the tradition of a cancer survivor ringing it, but this specific bell.

Unlike many other things you find throughout the Sanford campus, there was no placard stating who donated the bell. No sign letting people know who it was given in memory of.

There are two inscriptions and the plaque that the bell. One is a poem by a former Navy SEAL and Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne who died in 1997 of cancer at the age of 57. The other is unattributed but touching.

After I posted the a link to the story and video of Crystal ringing the bell on the station’s Facebook, one of the several dozen comments stood out. It was left by a woman named Jessica Mogler.

THANK YOU for sharing your bell ringing story … realizing the ringing of the bell is such a small part of the journey, but for “our journey” it also adds another small piece. My five young kids and I donated the Sanford bell a couple months after my husband passed away from brain cancer, and it is such a BLESSING to see it appreciated in a way that is so evident in the emotions it brings to cancer fighters … keep the fight and never lose faith or hope!

Crystal and I were deeply touched by this, having no idea at the time that it was so humbly given by a family that had lost their husband and father of five young kids a little more than two years ago.

Later that day Anndrea Anderson from KDLT, having seen the bell video, reached out to me about doing a follow up story on Crystal. The next day she came to our house to do the interview. When it was over I told her about where the bell came from and suggested she do a story on the Mogler family and the bell. The story aired last night and it was so well done. 

Thank you Anndrea for showing how people who are strangers become part of this wonderful supportive cancer family as it branches out with every diagnosis.

Thank you Jessica for your kind words for our family, and thank you for sharing Perry’s Bell with everyone who has and will one day ring it three times when treatment is done.

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