Ringing the Bell Has Become a Rite of Passage for Cancer Patients - and a Symbol of Hope and Healing
Julie approached the metal bell anchored to the wall, dabbing the corners of her eyes with a tissue before grasping the thickly braided rope.
The first yank didn't deliver any clangs, just laughs. But on Julie's second try, a metal echo pierced the air, followed by applause of her husband and care team.
"I made it through chemo!" exclaimed Julie, pumping her fist. It was just minutes after she finished her final aggressive chemotherapy for Stage 2 breast cancer at the Health First Cancer Institute in Titusville.
She turned to fellow patients and encouraged them to stay strong during their own chemo sessions.
"Good luck everybody - you will, too."
The small bell, anchored on a wall at the second-floor nurses' station, is easy to miss. But its symbolism isn't.
For Julie and other cancer patients completing treatment, it's all about hope and healing.
"You graduated," Julie's friend Jeanette whispered to her. "You graduated."
Battling cancer isn't a solo fight - it's something an entire team of family, friends and healthcare providers are physically and emotionally vested in. When times are tough, these doctors and nurses are here for their patients.
And when patients experience good times, they're there to enjoy their victories alongside them.
"They're really great, great compassionate people," Julie said of her care team. "Whether it be breast cancer or a brain tumor, I think you've really got to have a special skill set in order to handle that."
Kim, Julie's Chemo Infusion RN, said seeing her "model patient" ring the end-of-chemo bell was a must.
"It's awesome, watching them do that," Kim said. "It makes it worth it."