Music to their Ears bother me. But I love the beach. I always dreamed about going to play with my child outside.” Holloway-Davis made sure to address that concern by wearing a very high SPF sunscreen and a large hat whenever outdoors. The transplant itself (a procedure similar to giving/receiving blood) was uneventful. But another downside to the process was the 30-day inpatient, post-transplant regimen. She had acute graftversus-host disease – a common transplant complication in which the new immune system from the donor cells attacks parts of the host body – but she recovered. The toughest part during that posttransplant hospital stay was that Arya, who just turned 6 months old, wasn’t permitted to come in her room – 30 days of not holding her baby girl. “I would just look at her and Odell through the little window of the door in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. Sometimes I had a mask on (to protect her from germs). I was hoping Arya would at least remember my eyes.” Unfortunately within six months she had a recurrence. Strair felt Holloway-Davis would benefit from another transplant. “It is very rare to receive a second transplant after the disease relapses following an initial transplant,” notes the doctor. The same marrow previously collected was used, but Holloway-Davis had to endure “the big blast” again. She wasn’t rattled. “I trusted them (Strair and team). I trusted them through and through. I knew from the beginning they weren’t going to sugar coat anything, and they would tell me things as they were. I appreciated that, because I was able to mentally prepare for whatever might come. Hope for the best – prepare for the worst,” she confidently shares. Arya was approaching her first birthday, and after undergoing the second transplant it was another period without her in her arms – but worth the wait. Despite the challenges of the past several months, Odell had finally finished his degree. “Three months after my second transplant, I went to his graduation bald as ever but I made sure T he hallways of the recently opened ninth floor of the East Tower that houses the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Hematologic Malignancies Programs as well as the same-day chemotherapy unit at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital echo with what is hoped will become a familiar sound: the ringing of the “end of treatment” bell. When a patient’s treatment is completed he or she has the opportunity to celebrate by ringing this bell, signaling such sentiments as “Success” and “Today, I am stronger.” The bell was graciously donated by 24year old Aaron Lassin (left) and his family. In 2015 Lassin was diagnosed with stage 2 nodular sclerosis classical Hodgkin lymphoma. He started treatment in November and finished in April 2016. Cancer Connection took a moment to sit with Lassin to discuss the family’s inspiration behind its contribution of the bell. • Whose idea was the bell? My mom mentioned it — at the beginning of treatment. She had heard about something similar at another center and thought it would motivate me to get through treatment. • What was your inspiration for gifting the bell? I am lucky enough to have a huge support group that got me through treatment and celebrated the accomplishment with me when it was over. Some are not as fortunate. I wanted to create an atmosphere where people can recognize the patients who have conquered this difficult time. When the bell is rung, it’s like they are ringing away their woes, and others who are present can rejoice and be part of that celebration. • What motivated you to get through treatment? happy as ever with Arya at my side,” Holloway-Davis joyfully shares. to remain positive and exude a happy attitude. It’s amazing how your inner spirit will match what you do externally to be positive. The 5 F’s • What advice can you share with patients currently undergoing treatment? Keep going. Keep fighting. Stay positive. There is light at the end of the tunnel. S trong in her faith, she recalls writing “Strong Faith = Strong Finish” on her white board in the hospital room. She kept it there as inspiration during her times in the transplant unit, knowing that her family, friends and community were praying for her. During one of her post-transplant stays, Holloway-Davis was craving some dishes native to her homeland. A family in the area with close Jamaican ties learned she was in the transplant unit and came • What do you hope the bell will symbolize for patients? The end of treatment symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter. Ringing the bell signals getting on with your life – on to happier and healthier times. I 12 I Cancer Connection I Summer 2017