‘Ringing the Bell’ at Roger Williams Cancer Center in Rhode Island
Roger Williams Cancer Center’s patients have adopted a popular way to celebrate the end of their cancer treatment. They now have the option of “ringing the bell,” a tradition followed at countless cancer centers around the world.
Studies have shown that the ritual of ringing a bell at the end of cancer treatments can have a significant positive effect on patients and staff, including feelings of accomplishment and inspiration. The same can hold true for patients still going through their treatment, that they gain hope and encouragement by hearing others ring the bell.
“The cancer center team is excited to establish this option for patients to mark an important milestone in their cancer journey,” said Clinic Supervisor Brandi LaPorte. “It’s also a great opportunity for staff to share in this special moment and reflect on what everyone has accomplished together.”
She added that after the first patient rang the bell, it was not only emotional for her, but for all of the staff.
“As I walked through the waiting room afterward, you could see the hope in people’s eyes as they watched this courageous woman come through,” said LaPorte. “She wanted to say thank you to everyone. She stated our team was wonderful during her time here. It is a very special thing we do here.”
Story has it that the tradition was first established at MD Anderson in Texas when a rear admiral in the navy, upon completing his radiation therapy, decided to follow a navy tradition of ringing a bell to signify ‘when the job was done.’ He brought in a brass bell and then left it as a donation. It was mounted with an inscription.
On their last day of treatment, patients are escorted by their nurse and joined by their family and other staff to the bell. They are also given a Roger Williams Cancer Center T-shirt signed by staff.