Ringing Bell Resonates with Patients

Ringing a bell at the end of a course of radiation treatments at Saint Anthony’s Cancer Center of Excellence is more significant than it may sound. 

For those whose treatment sessions have come to an end, it denotes a new beginning; closing the book on a chapter of their life.
“We have always given the patients a hug and taken a picture with the staff when their treatments are finished,” said Saint Anthony’s Oncology Services Manager Christina Wickenhauser. “But starting earlier this year, we started ringing the bell and it seems to be very meaningful to our patients.”
Ron Hutson from Bunker Hill and Saint Anthony's Cancer Center of Excellence TeamTraditionally, ringing a bell means something noteworthy is happening, whether it’s to specify the beginning of church services; to mark the passing of an hour or indicate a momentous event, it makes people stop, listen and take notice.
At the Cancer Center of Excellence, it is a way for patients to say, “I’ve made it.”
“It’s the end of a long and difficult journey, and it’s a big accomplishment,” Wickenhauser said.
At the end of the last session, staff members bring the patient’s family back to the treatment area, take a photo for the patient to keep, ring the bell and read the following poem:
“Ring the bell, three times well, the ring will clearly say: the treatments are done, its course has run, and I am on my way.”
“Other patients hear the bell and they look forward to hearing it ring for them, too,” Wickenhauser said.
Ron Hutson, 69, completed his treatment regime in March.
“The bell rings and you feel like you’re ready for the next round,” he said. “I was pleased with the staff and the treatment process, but very relieved it was over.”
Several months ago, Hutson, of Bunker Hill, was pretty sure he knew what the diagnosis was going to be when he visited his doctor. There his suspicions were confirmed – he had prostate cancer.
He took it well, feeling that the Lord had a plan for his life.
“The Lord will never let you down,” Hutson said. “Some people say, ‘it’s just life,’ but I believe we are placed in this life according to God’s plan. I believe God will not give more than you can bear. My faith made the whole process easier.
“And it has given me a better perspective on life,” he added
Prior to his radiation therapy, Hutson did his homework. Intelligent and inquisitive, he read enough that when he showed up for his first treatment, he felt confident in his own mind that it was the appropriate treatment.
“Saint Anthony’s has quality equipment, the doctor was always on time and answered any questions I had,” Hutson said. “Everyone at the center was knowledgeable, compassionate, explained everything to me, and maybe most important, displayed optimism, throughout the process.
“Overall, it was a good experience,” he said.
For more information about Saint Anthony’s Cancer Center of Excellence, please call 618/463-5623.


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