The Bell family of Roanoke Rapids, NC has always been famous for celebrating holidays and special occasions in a big way. When Alan Bell was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, his wife Joyce resolved that she and their two grown children would make each day a celebration of Alan's life.
Joyce recalls the initial shock of the diagnosis of Drs. Grimm, Goldberg and Kelly at UNC confirming that Alan's cancer had spread to his lungs and liver. While embarking on a chemotherapy trial, Alan was given enormous support by loved ones and friends. Catherine, his daughter, made frequent trips to her parents' home where she assisted her mother with the care of her dad. When Alan traveled to UNC for treatments, he would stay with his daughter who lived two miles from the hospital. "Rodrique, our son, would sit with his dad during chemo."
After Thanksgiving of 2005, Alan was well enough to go to Orlando for our last Disney vacation together," Joyce reflects. Alan particularly wanted to see the treated wood used in the construction of several structures within the Animal Kingdom, supplied by his lumber business. It gave Alan great satisfaction to see the places that were built with his materials.
Upon returning home, the Bells were grateful they were able to celebrate several holidays in true Bell style prior to Alan's death on Father's Day in 2006. Joyce reflects: "When Alan was first diagnosed, I did not think these moments and bonus time possible. I am convinced the treatments and compassionate care Alan received at UNC prolonged his life."
The Bell family decided to name the Massage Therapy Room in the NC Cancer Hospital in Alan's memory. "Even up to his last few days, massage helped Alan feel better and he would have loved the view of the Dean Dome from the room," Joyce reflects.