End of Treatment Bell’ at North West Cancer Centre

30/05/2019

End of Treatment Bell’ at North West Cancer CentrePatients who are coming to the end of their cancer treatment can experience mixed emotions. Happiness and relief that their chemotherapy and or radiotherapy is complete  but worry  and apprehension about the future.  Going through treatment for many weeks,  patients who attend the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital, will have bonded with cancer centre staff and forged lasting friendships with other patients together on their cancer journey.

The North West Cancer Centre has recently installed an ‘End of Treatment Bell’ for cancer patients who choose to publicly celebrate and mark the end of their treatment.  The bell is situated within the radiotherapy waiting area.  Patients who finish their treatment, either radiotherapy or chemotherapy, can ring the bell to signal the end of their treatment and to symbolise their hope for the future.

Lesley Mitchell, Macmillan Lead Nurse, Cancer Services at the Western Trust said: “The bell is a symbol of hope for our patients. It will give patients who have finished their treatment the opportunity to mark it. It may  also be helpful and inspiring for other patients who are currently undergoing treatment.

“The North West Cancer Centre opened in November 2017 and has made a huge difference to the lives of people, who would have previously had to travel to Belfast or Galway for their treatment.  I am delighted that we can now give our patients an  opportunity to mark their end of their treatment journey. Finishing treatment can be very emotional for many patients and some may choose to mark this milestone privately or in other ways but the option of ringing  the bell will be available for any patients who choose to do so.”

The bell was donated to the North West Cancer Centre by Gabrielle Hall, who is a nurse in England and had seen the bell in use at her local cancer unit. Gabrielle’s grandfather, John Doran from Derry, was going through chemotherapy at the North West Cancer Centre and she wondered if he would get  an opportunity to ring the End of Treatment Bell, following his course of treatment. When she discovered the Cancer Centre didn’t have a bell, Gabrielle set about organising and arranging for  one to be installed.  John attended the launch of the bell, he said: “As a family, it is our hope that the End of Treatment Bell will allow patients to mark milestones at the end of their treatment and look to the future. It’s a very simple gesture but it gives an opportunity to mark the occasion and provide hope for patients, their family and Cancer Centre staff. I was delighted to attend the launch of the End of Treatment Bell and be one of the first people to give it a ring.”

As well as Mr Dolan, Carolyn Rutherford from Eglinton, coincidentally a member of staff at the North West Cancer Centre, finished her cancer treatment recently and took the opportunity to ring the bell to celebrate this. It was particularly poignant that she got to do this in the presence of her colleagues and friends.