At 28-years-old, cancer wasn’t something Blake LaBran thought about. But after experiencing weight loss, night sweats, lack of appetite and growth of a neck mass, he knew something was seriously wrong with his health. Blake saw his physician and soon after received the news: he was one of the 2.6 per 100,000 people per year diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood and bone marrow cancer.
Blake said that every member of his care team was honest with him at all times and provided him with the motivation to stay positive and keep moving forward. And while it was a scary experience, he never felt alone with the support of his doctors, nurses, radiation therapists, and other staff along with God and his family. And he could not to ring a special bell, a tradition in which patients completing radiation and chemotherapy are invited to participate.
At the end of summer 2015, Blake was wrapping up his treatments, and at the same time, the Cancer Center was planning a celebration marking the end of a major renovation and expansion that would bring world-class care to the region. As part of this event, Blake was invited to ring a bell on stage, publicly announcing the end of his treatment, but also helping usher in a new level of care for cancer patients throughout the Gulf South.
“Being on stage at the Open House Celebration and ringing the bell for completing treatment felt like my homecoming; it was my moment,” said Blake. “Looking out over the crowd and seeing all the beautiful faces of those who took such good care of me made my heart full.”