Softcover book, 7×7 in, 18×18 cm, 76 pages. Published 2020. Preview and purchase this book at my Blurb Bookstore. You can also purchase this book right here, in my Firmangallery Store. Excerpt from the prologue to Navigating Hope by David Firman: May 24, 2018. Gail and I step off our front porch. We wait for our dog-child Styxx to appear in the front window, as he always will. We wave goodbye, as we always do, and make our way across busy Portage Avenue. We stroll down the quiet residential streets of Winnipeg’s west end, beneath canopies of just-emerging leaves. Winter is behind us. In its place is a fresh explosion of heat and green. This is a time of renewal. Lawn mowers hum with the season’s first cut. Above us, an arborist’s chain saw chatters loudly. And there’s the high-pitched chorus of children playing at recess. We are on our way to CancerCare Manitoba. This is not the walk we had planned to take, back in January and February. By rights, we would be well into our plans and preparations for a long walk later this spring. The Camino Frangicena was in our sights, a long pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome crossing Britain, France, Switzerland and Italy. A small lump altered our direction. It would take us on a very different path. Excerpt from the epilogue to Navigating Hope by Gail Perry:
For 10 weeks now David has been marking, in pictures, our way through active treatment for my breast cancer. There has been a seemingly endless parade of appointments and procedures during what we have come to term (borrowing from Fidel Castro) the “Special Period”.
We are fortunate. Throughout treatment, we have been able to walk between our home and CancerCare Manitoba – 50 minutes each way along the leafy residential streets of central Winnipeg.
Active treatment ended last week with my ringing a bell.
There’s a tradition among cancer radiation treatment facilities, including CancerCare Manitoba. Immediately after the last radiation session, the patient is invited to ring a bell symbolizing the conclusion of that particular treatment and resumption of life anew.
For me, it was a unique opportunity to happily and humbly honour the occasion and the dedicated men and women who have provided me with care in a free and universal healthcare system.
At some centres (for example in Leicester, U.K.), it’s called the "end of treatment bell". The term is tricky because treatment can typically continue with years-long medication, or radiation is sometimes a prior step to other current treatment such as surgery, and the disease can possibly recur, necessitating still further treatment.
In other centres (in Buffalo and Las Vegas, for instance), it’s called the "victory bell." This isn’t wholly satisfactory either. It borrows from the commonly used vocabulary of battle, like Nixon’s "War on Cancer" and a world where, together, we will "beat" cancer but haven’t yet, where even the feistiest and most courageous individuals can "lose" their gallant “fight."