• 72°

‘Ring the bell’: Salisbury firefighters celebrate end of chemotherapy for co-worker

By Shavonne Potts
shavonne.potts@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Tammy File, the Salisbury Fire Department’s administrative assistant, stood outside of Station No. 1 on Wednesday to ring a bell that signaled her final round of chemotherapy.

She was joined for the occasion by dozens of firefighters and other personnel, who surprised File by gathering in front of the station with flowers and balloons.

File discovered a lump in her breast in June. By July, she was starting chemotherapy at the Wallace Cancer Institute.

“I usually go to my mammograms every year but because of COVID-19 it was delayed a little bit. I found a lump and so I told my doctor I needed to come up and see her,” File said.

File continued to work, sometimes from home and sometimes half-days. A few firefighters heard Wednesday was File’s last treatment and wanted to support her.

As she got out of her car Wednesday, File told her husband he couldn’t park in front because the firefighters were headed to a call. At first, she was confused about the scene. Then, she was overcome with emotion as she saw the men and women assembled with balloons and flowers.

“I work with the most wonderful people in the whole world,” she said.

File had no idea the real reason her husband stepped out of the office was to coordinate her arrival at the station rather than to take her to the doctor.

The original plan was to greet her with a parade of fire trucks in the parking lot of the cancer institute after her final treatment. However, she’d begun to experience numbness in her hands, which is sometimes a side effect of chemotherapy. Because her cancer was smaller, it meant she could discontinue treatment.

She was finished early. So, her husband, Doug, and the firefighters switched gears to welcome her at the station several hours earlier than expected. Doug, who is a cancer survivor also, said it was hard to watch his wife undergo chemotherapy and he would’ve much rather trade places with her.

Firefighters Wesley Jackson and Adrian Gantt along with Capt. Lauran McCulloh helped coordinate the surprise. McCulloh said they were just going to decorate File’s office but decided to do more. 

Some of the firefighters took a break from training to support and celebrate the end of File’s treatment.

Jackson said many of the firefighters know a cancer survivor or someone currently undergoing treatment.

“Ringing the bell is a big part of being here at the fire department — the bells ring for calls, bells ring to start the day, bells ring to finish the day and also bells ring for your end of tour, but this is not her end of tour,” Jackson said. “She’s alive and she’s going to be alive for a long time so we got her to ring the bell in celebration.”

He said File is the backbone of the whole fire department operation and is there. The fact that she continued to work is a testament to her dedication and shows what kind of person she is, Jackson said.

“She mustered up every bit of strength she could to make sure she came in to help us,” he said.

Comments

Nation/World

$1 trillion infrastructure plan clears Senate hurdle

College

College-bound North Carolina football player shot to death

Legion baseball

American Legion baseball: Rowan bounces back behind Schenck, reaches semifinals today

Education

Johnson C. Smith, Pfeiffer universities among latest to pay off student debts

Kannapolis

American Legion baseball: Kannapolis ends season

Business

Evictions looming as Congress refuses to extend ban that expires today

Coronavirus

Panthers linebacker Perryman will wear mask, won’t get vaccinated

Crime

Kannapolis man gets 180 months in prison after $100,000 worth of narcotics found in his apartment

Crime

New court date set for county commissioner’s driving while impaired case

Crime

Man arrested for pair of Salisbury convenience store robberies

Coronavirus

Governor changes course on masks amid worsening trends from delta variant

Coronavirus

Vaccination rules for federal workers toughened

Local

Mayor Alexander joins coalition of NC mayors urging passage of bipartisan infrastructure package

Local

New forklift’s arrival ‘a joyous moment’ for Rowan Helping Ministries

Local

Quotes of the week

East Spencer

Spencer, East Spencer hosting joint National Night Out

Business

Backcountry and Beyond prepares for move to downtown Salisbury

Education

Kannapolis City Schools will ‘strongly recommend,’ not require masks

Business

Ahold Delhaize hopes to add 100 new employees at Salisbury distribution center

Local

Cooler weather on the horizon for Rowan after heat wave

Crime

Blotter: July 29

Local

Downtown residents, business owners say noisy construction is A-OK, sign of progress to come

Business

County unemployment rises in June, positive job growth seen in leisure and hospitality sector

Local

NC poet laureate will speak during historical marker celebration, talks about life, race