Teen cancer survivor celebrates the end of treatment, honors best friend

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Ringing the bell at the end of treatment is a special moment for a cancer patient.

Lily Stuckey’s ceremony was even more emotional and special because she honored someone who wasn’t there to celebrate with her.

The sound of victory and the sound of a milestone in Lily Stuckey’s two and a half year-long battle with cancer, the end of her chemo treatments.

That’s what the bell ringing in Stuckey’s front yard meant to everyone in attendance Saturday afternoon.

“I was excited to ring my bell.”

The 13-year-old finally got to ring her bell after months of treatments, hospital visits, and worry. A big crowd gathered at her Whitemarsh Island home. Family. Friends. Even some of the doctors and nurses who treated her.

“They are family now,” said Lily’s mom Kelli Stuckey. “You are all in it together, You really do celebrate everyone’s victories.”

This was a bittersweet celebration though because Lily had to ring the bell twice.

“She kept her promise,” said Kelli. “She told Ashley the day before Kylie died she would do it. She promised Kylie at her service she would do it.”

The second bell rang for Kylie Shiell, Lily’s best friend. A friend who lost her fight with this deadly disease.

“She was the only one that really got it. like understood,” said Lily. “Like after I go to chemo I can’t really explain to my mom how I feel except for bad, she knows how I feel.”

“They got each other,” said Kelli. “What teenage girls compare liver enzymes or what their counts are or who’s immune system is better.”

“We always talked about I am going to ring it so hard I’m going to break it.,” explains Lily. “We always talked about ringing the bell or our parties afterward. So I decided because she didn’t get to finish I’d finish for her.”

Right there to watch this finish her newest and biggest cheerleaders.. Kylie’s mom and dad.

“She asked me after Kylie passed away is it going to be weird for you now?” remembers Ashley Shiell, Kylie’s mom. “I said no if anything it will make me push you even harder knowing that Kylie lost her battle but we still have you.”

“They are just great,” smiles Kelli. “I don’t know if I could have been as gracious and as excited if the shoe was on the other foot.”

A hard day for everyone, but one with a lot of smiles, tears, and memories. Knowing Kylie was looking down and cheering on Lily as she takes the next big step toward the “new normal”.

“I know its never truly over but she made it,” said Kelli Stuckey.

“What would Kylie be doing if she were here?”
“She’d be cheering her on and screaming and going crazy and ringing everything,” smiles Ashley.

Lily still has six months of breathing treatments, checkups every 3 months, then if everything goes well those checks will be every six months, then a year. The hope is she can have her port taken out in the next year. Lily says she wants to go back to school and be a regular teenager.

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