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New bell allows Pediatrics patients at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to celebrate milestones

Inspired by the late Molly Wadden of “Molly’s Mission,” a celebratory bell has been hung in the halls of Pediatrics at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital (CBRH).

The Pediatrics Unit at the CBRH sees approximately 200 patients each year. The bell is now in place for children battling critical illnesses, including cancer, to ring when milestones have been reached.

“Molly rang the bell in Halifax,” says Jeff Wadden, Molly’s father. “We want kids in Cape Breton to have this experience here at home, surrounded by their family and friends. Ringing the bell is a powerful milestone in the journey to recovery.”

Behind the newly installed bell is a beautifully designed mural in Molly’s honour. It features the colour gold, which represents childhood cancer, and purple, which represents all types of cancer. Molly’s Mission, as a movement, has also adopted these colours. The quote on the mural reads, “Let your strength be felt by all, as this bell’s song fills the hall. For every time we hear this note, another life is filled with hope.”

“It’s meant to be bright, strong and powerful, just like all the children battling critical illnesses,” says Jeff. “The messaging is one of hope, and the belief that you are on the road to recovery. The real hope is that the bell never has to make a sound, unused from this day forward.”

The installation of this bell was important to the Wadden family, noting that health care is more than tests, procedures, and medications. In their firsthand experience, they share that it’s also about how a person is treated, how they feel, and their outlook on the future.

“This bell has no medical purpose, but it does provide a moment of positivity and change.  This outlook is just as necessary as the tests and medications, and should not be overlooked,” shares Jeff.

“Treatment for cancer often comes with side effects like nausea, exhaustion, hair loss, and so much more,” says Melissa MacDonald, Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) Nurse Coordinator, CBRH. “Ringing a bell at the end of all the hard parts of their journey becomes a celebration – a happy, joyous day – a core memory. And now, we (staff) have the opportunity to witness a child’s hope and strength as they ring the bell at home, surrounded by family and friends. I was lucky enough to know Molly, and I know she would be so proud of this beautiful bell, and the significance it will have in the lives of kids here in Cape Breton.”

“We have heard time and time again just how important being surrounded by loved ones is during a health care journey – it’s why we as a Foundation strive to strengthen health care, here at home,” says Paula MacNeil, CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation. “I am beyond grateful to the Waddens for all they continue to do in name of Molly’s Mission, including bringing joy to some of the littlest patients in Cape Breton, when they need it most.”

Molly Wadden was just nine years old when she was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. With gratitude for the donors and causes that supported Molly through her medical journey, and a longing to provide hope to others in similar situations, Molly created ‘Molly’s Mission.’ Molly carried out her mission, raising more than $35,000 for health care charities, including the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation and Caleb’s Courage, before her passing in July 2022. Molly’s parents, Jeff and Nadine Wadden, are now the caretakers of Molly’s Mission, and continue to raise funds for these important causes.

“We hope people see the bell and smile, not feel sad,” says Jeff. “There was nothing sad about Molly and nothing sad about any of the projects Molly’s Mission has been a part of. It’s only meant to inspire.”

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