For many people there is no great significance to ringing a bell, but to cancer patients at the Health Services Authority (HSA) ringing the newly installed bell in the Chemotherapy Unit symbolises a battle won and the start of a new journey.
On 2 February, the HSA in partnership with the Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS) presented the ‘Final Day of Treatment Bell’ in honor of World Cancer Day, celebrated globally on 4 February.
Ringing a bell, presenting certificates and other forms of symbolic action to signal a patient’s last day of treatment has become standard practice in treatment facilities across the world. Given Cayman’s rich seafaring history, the HSA and CICS identified a bell as the most suitable symbol for our community.
Neil Cox and Licci Powell, who both recently completed treatment, were the first patients to celebrate the major milestone by ringing the bell. Staff of the Chemotherapy Unit also presented them with certificates marking the end of their treatment.
“We want the sound of this bell be the sound of victory to our patients and one that helps to restore their hopes. By celebrating the moment with our patients we hope they will feel how genuinely proud we are of them and know that they will always remain a part of our family,” said Oncology Nurse Rosanna Humphreys-Johnson.
Jennifer Weber, Operations Manager of CICS said, “Speaking with the a representative from the Seamen’s Association, I learned that ringing a ships bell eight times indicates all clear at the end of a watch. That history and symbolism really resonated with the patients who were the first to celebrate with eight rings. It was evident that it meant a lot to them and the Cancer Society is so happy to be a part of their experience and others to come.”
The HSA and CICS hope that the bell will inspire many other patients to continue to fight through their treatment until they can experience their “all clear” moment.
The bell has already served as an inspiration to a patient who was in the Chemotherapy Unit having her treatment during the installation. “She called me over and excitedly proclaimed that she will be the person ringing the bell someday because she has only one treatment left!” Ms Weber recalled.
The Health Services Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood, CICS Board Member Betty Ann Duty, Jennifer Weber and members of the Chemotherapy Unit all attended the ceremony.
The HSA and CICS thanks the Seafarer’s Association for donating a temporary bell for the event.
For more information about our oncology services please contact our Chemotherapy Unit at 244-2872.