Ringing Away Cancer: The Story Behind Perry’s Bell

The bell was donated a few months after Perry Mogler passed

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Earlier this month, we brought you the story of Crystal Erickson, who triumphantly rang the “cancer bell” at Sanford Hospital to signify the end of her breast cancer treatment.

That bell -as does every cancer patient who rings it- has a story unlike any other.
“When I walked into radiation I walked by that bell every day,” said Erickson. “And 25 treatments, every day, I walked by that bell and I knew, counting down, the days I would get to ring that.”

That day for Crystal came nearly seven months after she received her diagnosis of Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Ringing the bell meant she was completely done with treatment.

“It felt very good. Glad that I was able to ring the bell because I was worried at first, I had heard about the bell and I’m like, ‘I didn’t even know does Sanford have one?”

The bell that hangs outside Sanford’s Cancer Treatment Center was installed in 2015.

“It’s one of the first things we try to educate our patients when they come in actually, because it’s extremely important,” said Sanford Unit Secretary Mary Timmer.

Many have stood in the same spot as Crystal to toll the bell three times.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for many patients,” said Sanford Doctor Michele Lohr. ”It signifies the end of a very long journey, and a lot of emotion: joy, sometimes grief, loss but excitement to be starting their new life.”

However it was due the loss of a life that the bell came to be where it is today.

“Perry was diagnosed, actually about 6 years ago about this time,” said Jessica Mogler. “We would have been married 15 years this year.”

Jessica Mogler’s late husband Perry was no stranger to Sanford’s Cancer Treatment Center.

“Brain cancer, there really is no cure. So knowing that, we did the radiation again, because you really didn’t have anything to lose so to speak.”

Four times, Perry fought against tumors growing in his brain until his fight came to an end in the fall of 2014.

“They remember a lot of the funny things he did. He was the best dad,” said Jessica.

Now for the Moglers, Perry’s memory lives on through pictures and his spirit can still be heard in the halls of Sanford Hospital.

“One of the nurses told me one time, she said, ‘Every time I hear that bell ring, I think of Perry.’ I just think, that’s pretty neat,” said Jessica.

Inspired by seeing a similar bell at another hospital, Mogler donated one to Sanford to give other cancer patients a change to do something Perry never could.

“I kind of had it in the back of my mind that Sanford should have one of these, it’s a neat way to end that part of your journey.”

The bell was donated a few months after Perry passed.

Jessica has not gone back to see it installed and never even heard it chime.

“Not until crystal rang it on the video.”

She came across the video on Hot104.7’s Facebook page, where Crystal’s husband Andy shared it.

“I clicked on the link and I could see the emotion that it brought to her, and it just really hit me. You can just sense what it was like for her to be able to do that.”

It was the first time Jessica was able to see Perry’s impact at Sanford, but it won’t be the last.

“First of all it brings a smile, and then a lot of times, a tear. But it’s not hard because I’m so happy for them and I know the journey they’re on and to be done, at that point, it feels so good.”

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