Travel nurse in ND rings bell after cancer diagnosis 3 months ago

Local News

It’s been nearly four months since KX News first reported on a traveling nurse who received a shocking cancer diagnosis while living in North Dakota. She was helping with the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, she reached a milestone in her battle.

In late November, Helene Neville was at the start of a surprising and scary journey with Stage IV Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“I knew one person in town and now, after your story, people just came out of the woodwork!” Neville said.

She received her first chemo treatment on Dec. 2.

“It didn’t bother me too much. After having sepsis and almost dying, and COVID and almost dying, I’m like, ‘You gotta come at me with bigger guns than that!'” Neville said.

Helene says the average survival rate for what she was fighting is two to three months. She made it to five.

She also said that 80 percent of these cancer patients die after a year.

“So that’s the next miracle. I gotta pass that,” Neville said.

On March 17, she received her final chemo treatment.

“We had a big miracle so we should have a big bell. When I saw the bell, I was like, ‘Oh, wow. This is the real deal!'” Neville said.

Since the hospital doesn’t have one, she reached out to the Bismarck Fire Department.

“We thought, ‘This one might be able to do the job for you!'” said Fire Marshal Owen Fitzsimmons.

“We’re very happy to support Helene and we’re just happy that she reached out to us. I think this is a great use for this bell,” said Fitzsimmons.

“They just truly lived up to North Dakota nice. I’ve never experienced that in eight states working as a nurse and being a patient,” said Neville.

Helene heads to Nebraska at the end of the month where they’ll do another treatment to protect her brain.

On April 7, she’ll find out if she’s in remission or not.

“What matters is what we have today and now. That’s what you have to focus on. I’m hoping it’s not still present in my body and I can just be free, but if it is, we’ll attack that, too,” Neville said.

She says she couldn’t be where she’s at today without the support of the people around her.

“They made up for like, ‘Hey, your family’s not here? Well, we’re your family now.’ Just a beautiful display of humanity. That’s what I can say,” Neville said.

Helene says she’s writing a book, Miracle in Bismarck, and hopes to publish it sometime this year.

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