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Bell ringing

CheeseQueen57's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2016
LisaPizza's picture
Posts: 343
Joined: Feb 2018

I can see both sides.

However, this practice (below, from the article), seems even worse ...


"Ball stressed that her staff at Pennsylvania Hospital close the room doors of people with a poor prognosis."

cmb's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Jan 2018

I'm glad my oncology cancer center didn't do this. All the chairs were in one open area and some of the patients were clearly struggling with their cancer and treatment. I don’t know whether their treatments were ultimately successful or not, but I would find a bell ringing practice to be in poor taste in those circumstances. I was satisfied receiving the quiet good wishes from my oncology nurse and the staff as I left for (hopefully) the last time.

I did get a certificate of completion from the radiation staff, which was handed to me while I was still in the treatment room, away from other patients. It was signed by all the staff who had treated me there. I appreciated this gesture and the fact that they had done it privately so as to not make those who still had weeks to go feel uncomfortable.

I happened to be finishing up radiation at the same time as another couple of ladies and we had chatted briefly before and after our treatments. So we did give each other hugs and best wishes, but this was something we did ourselves, not as part of a "ceremony" by the center.

Posts: 572
Joined: Oct 2009

Thanks for posting the link. I was treated in 2009. No bell ringing was done where I received treatment. Perhaps this idea came from a somewhat similar practice of hospitals playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star “ over the intercom system every time a baby is born. 

Personally I don’t think ringing a bell after completing chemo is something I would even think of doing. It’s a bit like when the New York Stock Exchange has a company ring the opening bell. Or how about from the movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”  line...Look Mommy every time you hear a bell (on a Christmas tree) ring, an angel gets it‘s wings!!”  ( if I recall the line correctly). 

Seems like a service differentiation gone wrong. Silly and not reflective of a very personal health care experience. Can you imagine if they gave you a blue ribbon? As far as getting a “certificate of completion” that also is not of value nor would I appreciate the gesture....

As far as closing the door of patients with a poor prognosis that too seems odd. It should be up to the patient if their door is open or closed unless of course the room is an isolation room with reverse air circulation for infectious diseases. 

Purely my personal opinion on subjects. 


EZLiving66's picture
Posts: 1479
Joined: Oct 2015

As far as I know my hospital has no bell.  We were all in one room and some of the women there were in rough shape.  I was put in a separate room because after my port failed they had to use a vein and it was really hard to find one. Sometimes I had blood squirting out and they didn't want other women to have to see that.  If I had to choose I'd say no bell unless there were individual soundproof rooms.  The center was changed after I stopped my chemo and I hear the setup is much better.



derMaus's picture
Posts: 561
Joined: Nov 2016

I'd heard about this practice but not to the extent described in the article. Count me NOT a fan. They had a bell at my radiation facility; I was told to ring it after my last round, but there was no card, cake or other patients standing around. I went up to it, rang it, and walked off, the techs said congratulations and it was over. It seems, to me, very insensitive to have a big hoopla when someone completes their sessions because - let's face it - there's no way to know if, or how soon, you'll be back. Bell ringing assumes a 'once and done' approach to chemo; wonder how often that is truly the case?

CheeseQueen57's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2016

I didn’t get to ring the bell for chemo since I didn’t finish. It’s located in the waiting room outside the infusion room. I remember getting very emotional when others rang it but that’s before I knew what was to come. 

CheeseQueen57's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2016

i did get to ring for raration!  Oh to be that thin again!



Jairoldi's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: May 2017

It was very emotional. Surprisingly so. My chemo unit accessed ports and veins in semi private or private rooms then back to the waiting room until a chemo chair was available. We have 5 chemo rooms that accommodate 4 chairs each. A small bell was brought to my chair along with a card signed by the nurses.

I think it's like many things in life in that we don't think about  insensitivities until we are the one feeling sensitive. I never gave a thought about breast cancer awareness being so dominant before I had gynecologic cancer. Hey, what about us? It never bothered me to hear some one describe being between houses, while the waiting to close on a new house, as being homeless until I adopted a teen that bad truly been homeless, living in a shelter, living in a car, etc. When my older son stayed with us after he sold his house and had a week until he closed on his new home my daughter found it hurtful when he joked about being homeless.

I don't think it's easy, nor entirely possible, to be sensitive to all things in all ways. I try to learn as I go am by in life and only hope to improve a bit as time goes on. I pray I never need chemo again but if I do I will be more aware now about the struggle some have with hearing a celebration in the chemo unit. Perhaps I would celebrate once I got home because for me it was something to celebrate.

Soup52's picture
Posts: 906
Joined: Jan 2016

There is no bell ringing at my chemo or radiation area . I guess I was a little disappointed, but now I see the opinion of others it makes sense not to do I guess. None of us really ever know if the cancer is really ever really gone forever.

LisaPizza's picture
Posts: 343
Joined: Feb 2018

I had gotten the feeling from being around on the internet that it was a little bit unusual that I didn't have a bell at the end of either chemo or radiation. There actually was a bell in the chemo center but no one took me to ring it. I guess they weren't paying aftention. But now i see that lots of others didn't either. I did, however, get a hug from my gyn onc at my firat follow up after all treatment was finished :) Sheet covering my lap and all, lol. 

Posts: 293
Joined: Dec 2017

When you do your first follow-up after chemo/radiation is all completed, rather than at the treatment session itself. When you are proclaimed NED, stable or in my case, in-between. When the doctor has no longer scheduled any more sessions for you and does not intend to at the moment. 

I still stand by the thought that a small gift and a certificate might be nice too, though. A commemoration of this step in your fight is a nice thought. It's an important step.

Lulu7582's picture
Posts: 112
Joined: Jun 2018

Haven't been on in awhile but understand the emotions regarding a bell ring when dealing with metastatic disease. I did have those emotions  and glad my infusion center did not have a bell to ring. It is hard enough knowing that at the end of chemo I would be facing a lifetime of treatment to stop the progression. However I am happy for those who are cured and can put all their treatment behind them. At the end of my chemo the nurses did a little dance and called me a "chemo warrior" which I think was appropriate for all of us finishing chemo no matter if you have metastatic or if you are now cured. We are all chemo warriors for suviving those cycles!!! 

Posts: 800
Joined: May 2016

There was bell ringing in my chemo center. I wasnt too excited to ring it. It was mostly because i didnt feel like celebrating because i knew it wasnt over. I srill had to go hpme and get sick for a week or two. I remember my dad was with me and wanted my picture taken and every thing. I did it but was not excited.  I went and celabrated 3 weeks after my last chemo. Thats when i felt i was done. I wanted the cycle to be over.

NoTimeForCancer's picture
Posts: 2911
Joined: Mar 2013

Well crap.  I had written something out and then the darn thing didn't process it.  So let me try again.

My chemo treatment area had a little, porcelain bell and it made a little tinkling noise - nothing loud and clangy.  I was very much aware that I was finishing that day another woman was starting her first treatment in the bed caddy-corner to me.  Her doctor clearly had not explained how long chemo takes and was not aware that she would be there all day.  I shared encouraging words with her, and reassurance, as I walked to the multiple bathroom trips.  

My final radiation treatment was marked with a little white teddy bear sitting next to my purse when I got off the table.  I hated radiation and I cried all day when I completed it.  I vowed not to keep the bear because I hated radiation and will be forever greatful for my friend who came to walk with me around my parking lot so I would feel better.  I did keep the bear and I celebrate her birthday. 

To ring the bell or not?  I think it must be hard to know you will not be able to do that, but shouldn't we celebrate others successes?  We celebrate another year of NED?  Does that hurt our friends?  Please  understand, I don't say this to start a fight - I say it because I think about this.  

I met one women who said to me how she felt guilty because her cancer was caught early and treatment beat back the beast.  I get it - I do too!  

cmb's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Jan 2018

While do hope that I could celebrate others successful treatment, regardless of my own condition, I can't help but think of the time a woman came to my cancer center for her treatment appointment. She was extremely thin and fragile and quietly told the oncology nurse that she had decided against further treatment. She asked the nurse to help her get started with hospice. This did not appear to be a surprise to the nurse as she immediately agreed to help.

They did move out of the treatment area - I assume to one of the examining rooms for more privacy. I couldn't help overhearing this initial conversation as I was sitting the chair next to hers. I never saw this patient again, so I expect that she did enter hospice as she had requested.

So when the subject of bell ringing came up in this thread, all I could think is how appalling it would be for this poor woman, or someone like her, to be there when the center was celebrating the completion of another patient's treatment.

Now while I'm sure a cancer center would never intentionally have a celebration at the same time as this sad situation, we never really know what someone else is going through in that environment. So I would rather do my celebrating off premises rather than take a chance on causing someone else pain, even if the majority of the other patients were genuinely happy for me.

We all have different experiences and feelings and so we can reasonably have different opinions on the various topics we discuss in these threads. I know that I learn from everyone who posts here. But ultimately, each of us has to do what we believe is right for us as individuals, every step of the way in this journey that none of us undertook willingly.

Cass83's picture
Posts: 151
Joined: Feb 2017

My infusion unit had the poem and the bell and I rang it and have no regrets. It was a knock out to that round (chemo) in my cancer battle, and the bell to me showed I won that round. I was then onto radiation (I received the certificate when I finished that)  When I first started chemo and heard others ring it, I was happy for them. We cheered and clapped when we heard it. Everyone has their own thoughts and ideas, and we are free to have them. I had a friend that didn't get to ring a bell so I took a small cow bell I had to her and she rang it at her house and celebrated. I have another friend going through chemo that might never ring a bell, but if she doesn't, she will cheer those that do. 

Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

My hospital didn't have a bell to ring, so walking out was almost a bit anticlimactic.  I think it would show some cancer patients that there are people who get successful treatment in the same cancer center they're going to, but for those who have not been in remission at all, it would definitely be depressing. It's really a mixed emotional bag for other patients.

Posts: 293
Joined: Dec 2017

I agree ... it was an emotional moment. Chemo just takes so much out of you. It was such a milestone in my life, and I heartiliy applauded others who reached that milestone.

However, having done it, I can understand how it can hit others like an anvil. Back when I had my miscarriages, hospitals had the tendency to put miscarriage patients right near the maternity ward.  That just made me feel so much better ... not. Maybe that is just a tiny, tiny fraction of how some people at infusion centers feel. 

Another thought ... after the brouhaha, it turned out there was stranding on  my post-treatment CT scan. This could have indicated scar tissue or dead cancer cells (and there was a very good chance it was), but in some cases, it could have indicated something more sinister. My doctor said I could wait and watch or have two more chemos as a just-in-case measure. I opted for the second choice. So after all the bell-ringing, I had to have two more chemos. Quite a let-down, and I decided that there was to be no more bell-ringing after those two, thanks. So it's not always depressing to those who are not involved. If you need further treatments, it can be depressing for you as well. Not exactly a sunny moment in my life.

Maybe the bell-ringing could be done away from the infusion area? There must be a meeting room or nice unused room in many of these places, or a more-quiet corner. People might still hear it, but it won't be as obvious. Problem is that I don't think the nurses can get away from their patients for that long. There must be some sort of compromise. Even just getting a certificate shoved in your hands can look a litlte obvious to others nearby. And there is still the problem of what if you need extra treatments.

Or maybe when you're finally done and ready for the next follow-up doctor visit, the place can give you a small gift and the signed cetificate to encourage you in your fight. We're talking about a fridge magnet or something. You PAY enough for this treatment. They can afford a measly piece of paper and magnet!

Really, for me it would be a tough call. 

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