It’s Been a Year Since I’ve Rung the Damn Bell

And I’m still holding my breath

Heather Jauquet
4 min readApr 1, 2022


Author ringing the bell after cancer treatment

I didn’t even realize it was my first anniversary of ringing the damn bell until I was scrolling through pictures on my phone. It’s been one year since I sat in my infusion chair, crocheting a blanket to pass the time. It’s been one year since I’ve had a needle jab through my chest port, feeling the icy medicine flow through my body. It’s been a year since I saw the oncology nurses who checked on me and kept me alive. It’s been a year since I rang the damn bell.

And yet, I’m still waiting.

I’m still holding my breath.

I’m afraid to move too quickly because what if it’s not true? What if it’s not true that I’m officially done with cancer treatments?

What if…

What if it comes back…

I fear that I am still sick. I tread softly in this life just in case.

I celebrate…but not too loudly, just in case.

I whisper-share that I’m a survivor because it might not be true if I say it loud enough to hear.

When someone comments on my new curls, I smile and say thank you, not letting them know that they are a courtesy of my 12 weeks of chemo.

When my hair comes out as I softly brush it, it brings back memories of when I didn’t have eyelashes, eyebrows, or hair on my head.

What if I wake up tomorrow and it’s not true?

What if I wake up tomorrow and I still have cancer?

What if?

It’s been a year since I rang the damn bell, and I’m still holding my breath.

But I’m ready to exhale

But every day, I tiptoe out and grasp bits of my former life.

I wake up and thank God for another day, and then I lace up my shoes, grateful to see the sunrise as I run slowly around my neighborhood. I greet fellow runners with a nod and a smile, happy that I’m not under the harsh fluorescent lights on the oncology floor with the smell of medicine and disinfectant permeating the inside of my nose. Instead, I get to breathe in the fresh air, feel the wind in my face, and hear the early morning…



Heather Jauquet

Writer. Wife. Mom. Runner. Crocheter. Cancer patient in a pandemic.