Young dad's memorial marks cancer milestones

A stage-four colon cancer diagnosis is a shock at any age. But for Kristin and Kyle Hendrix, the news that 30-year-old Kyle had colon cancer that metastasized to the liver left the Monticello family speechless.

“Kyle had no family history, no symptoms; it came out of nowhere in June of 2012,” Kristin Hendrix said. “We knew there was no cure, but he decided to take chemotherapy and radiation to fight for time. Kyle battled for 15 months and passed away September 23, 2013, at age 31.”

When Kyle was entering hospice care, Kristin asked if he wanted a memorial in his name. They had been to another center that featured a good-news bell for patients to ring after encouraging reports.

“Kyle wanted a good-news bell at Carle. Once he passed away, we worked with the nurses to design a bell and donated it in Kyle’s memory,” Kristin explained.

The Hendrix family presented the bell to Carle Cancer Center April 8, 2014.

“Patients love the bell,” said Christine Plotner, BSN, RN, nurse coordinator at Carle Cancer Center. “When patients receive good news – like their tumor is smaller, their cancer is in remission, or they are cancer-free – they can ring the bell. Everyone in the cancer center then applauds and shares in the celebration.”

Kristin Hendrix believes the bell is a great way to honor her husband.

“I was in the South Clinic this past fall with my kids getting flu shots. I was walking by the cancer center, and I heard someone ring Kyle’s bell. I got goosebumps,” she said

“Kyle never got to ring a good-news bell, but his contribution helps other patients celebrate their milestones.”