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Radiation Oncology Patients Celebrate with 'Ringing of the Bell'

The Radiation Oncology Department at The University of Tennessee Medical Center has implemented a new tradition known as "The Ringing of the Bell" for cancer patients who have just completed radiation treatment.

The idea for this celebration was inspired by Lenny Rheault, a radiation oncology patient and volunteer who took part in this tradition when treated at Mass General in Boston, Massachusetts. This widespread tradition was introduced in 1996 at MD Anderson, Houston, Texas, when U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne, a patient with head and neck cancer, installed a brass bell in the Radiation Treatment Center. The bell is rung three times symbolizing the restoration of balance, harmony and life energy at the end of a patient’s radiation treatment.

Terry Love, RN, Radiation Oncology, and her husband Jim donated the bell and plaque after being inspired by Lenny’s story. They searched and found the brass bell at a navy yard.

The unveiling of the new bell was accompanied by a small ceremony and a blessing of the bell by Chaplain Anne Sprouse. Lenny and his wife were honorary guests. On that day, the bell was rung by six patients who had finished their treatment.

Robert Bertoli, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiation Oncologist, said, "Our new UT tradition of celebratory bell ringing has been an immediate hit with our patients and their families. Not only is it a wonderful event for the patients completing their treatment, but it also serves as encouragement for others who are earlier in their courses of therapy."

Posted May 10, 2014

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