Toddler born with cancer first to ring end of treatment bell at Medway Maritime Hospital

  • Watch as two-year-old Tadhg Mealey rings the bell to mark the end of his cancer treatment

A two-year-old boy born with cancer has become the first person to ring the bell at Medway Maritime Hospital, marking the end of his treatment.

Tadhg Mealey and his mum Courtney were invited back to Dolphin Ward at the hospital, so the toddler could ring the End of Treatment bell - almost two years to the day since he completed chemo and surgery .

Tadhg was born on 3 July 2020 with a small lump under his left eye that doubled in size within a matter of days. Fourteen days later he started chemotherapy treatment after doctors diagnosed him with infantile fibrosarcoma - a type of tumour among the soft tissue which is often found in children under the age of one.

After seven months of chemotherapy treatment Tadhg then underwent surgery to remove the tumour from his left cheek bone on 8 February 2021.

Although the bell has been on the wall of the ward since early 2020 it was installed just a few weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The ceremonial occasion was put on hold meaning no child or young person who had completed their treatment was able to ring it during the pandemic.

Tadhg Mealey rings the End of Treatment bell at Medway Hospital alongside his mum Courtney. Credit: Medway NHS Foundation Trust

Now visiting restrictions have been eased the Children’s Outreach and Specialist Team are starting to invite children, who completed their treatment during the pandemic, back to the hospital so they can ring the bell which was installed as a symbol of hope.

Mum Courtney said: “It was great to be invited back to the hospital and for Tadhg to ring the bell. While he is unaware of what he went through and probably doesn’t truly understand the meaning of ringing the bell at the moment, for me it signified how far we have come since his diagnosis. That chapter of our lives is now behind us and we can move on as his cancer is not expected to return - thankfully.

“When you hear the word cancer the feeling is awful. Straight away you think of death, you go into a bubble and can’t think of anything else. You ask yourself ‘How can a baby be born with cancer? Why my baby?’ It didn’t just have an effect on me but my parents, my four siblings and the extended family.

“We are a strong family who support each other and stay positive. Tadhg coped really well with weekly chemotherapy and we could see the lump shrinking which was a good indication to us that it was working. 

“I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the staff who helped care for Tadhg. He is now a healthy little boy who attends nursery. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

Tadhg continues to have MRI scans every four months at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and will remain under GOSH’s care until the age of 18. 

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