On June 3, 2014, Jennifer Ernst was the first patient to ring the brass bell in the Sentara Martha Jefferson Infusion Center. The joyful sound marked her last day of chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
“For me, ringing the bell felt like triumph,” says Jennifer. “I beat cancer; it didn’t beat me. The mental battle, staying positive throughout my treatments, was important in the healing process. So ringing the bell lets the world know that I did this.”
Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2013. Her treatments over the next eight months included nine cycles of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, removal of lymph nodes and radiation.
Supporting the patients through treatments
During Jennifer’s treatments, Girl Scouts from Troop 874 sold candy and nuts to raise money to purchase and install the brass bell. The scouts selected the bell and a plaque as part of their troop’s e¬ffort to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award — the second highest award a Girl Scout can earn. They also knitted shawls for infusion center patients and donated cases of Girl Scout Cookies.
“It is heartwarming to see young girls take such an interest in helping our patients,” says infusion center nurse Amy Brown, whose daughter, Savannah, is a member of Troop 874.
“The bell is a wonderful public celebration of a milestone,” says Dr. Erika Struble, an oncologist who was a member of Jennifer’s treatment team. “When we as caregivers hear the bell ring, it is an audible reminder of the patient’s accomplishment and celebration. I was so happy to witness Jennifer’s joy.”