Ringing The Bell

Check this out.  What you will see is the story of a rite of passage. No, not a Bar Mitzvah or a Sweet Sixteen. This is a story about a cancer treatment rite of passage.

You see, at many cancer treatment centers around the country, it is now a rite of passage for oncology patients to ring a large (think school bell, ship’s bell, etc.) bell to celebrate the completion of their therapy. Sounds like a really thoughtful, meaningful step to build into the treatment process. BUT. The RN pictured above, who lives her life dealing with cancer patients, has some reservations.  

She notes, for example, that at the conclusion of prescribed therapy, no one knows for sure if it was curative, or even enough to take the patient into remission.

She describes a patient who, at the end of radiation therapy, was so tired and burned out that the last thing she wanted to do was to ring a damn celebratory bell.

And she asks about patients with metastatic disease that has spread to who knows where. When is cancer therapy for these cases really “over?” 

Maybe, she suggests, giving the patient a clean set of sheets or some new towels might be more appropriate to acknowledge reaching a milestone in therapy, but not necessarily its conclusion.

Bottom Line. Yup. We need to be ever vigilant about ideas that sound really good, but may be swords that cut two ways.  

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