Suzanne Rowland
Suzanne Rowland, nurse practitioner in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre's Multiple Myeloma Program, with the bell from the HMCS Bonaventure, which was donated by her father, Retired Lieutenant-Commander J Rowland. (Photo: UHN)

Hanging on the wall of a clinic room on the 14th floor of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is a shiny little piece of Canadian Military history.

And, on Remembrance Day, it's one that's particularly special to Suzanne Rowland, nurse practitioner in the Princess Margaret's Multiple Myeloma Program.

Retired Lieutenant-Commander J Rowland, Suzanne's father, donated a ship's bell to the Autologous Transplant Day Hospital so that patients can ring it in celebration of the end of their treatment.

While it marks a victory in a person's cancer journey, the bell has its own rich history. It was a piece of the HMCS Bonaventure – the last aircraft carrier in service in the Royal Canadian Navy, decommissioned in July 1970.

Lt.-Cmdr. Rowland served on that ship. Before it was officially decommissioned, he took the bell as a keepsake, later donating it to the Princess Margaret with thanks.

On Remembrance Day, it serves as an important reminder of the immense debt of gratitude we owe to our veterans and active duty men and women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces today.

For Suzanne, whose son is also an active-duty soldier, it's an especially potent reminder.

"Remembrance Day is emotional for me," she says. "Thinking of my father's service…and now my son. I'm proud and hope we always pause to honour our service members."

Suzanne Rowland explains the significance of the bell patients can ring at the end of their treatment in the Autologous Transplant Day Hospital at the Princess Margaret. (Video: UHN)

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