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Ringing the Bell

Newsdate: 6 July 2015 Trudy Farrell and family with Julie Barnes, Oncology Nurse

It’s just a simple ring of a bell, but for chemotherapy patients at Wigan’s Cancer Care Centre, it’s a symbol of hope and strength.

Recently, a bell was placed in the waiting area of the newly built Cancer Care Centre. But this is not just any bell. It’s a bell that only chemotherapy patients can ring when they are celebrating the end of their treatment plan.

When patients ring the bell, they also recite the following poem:  “Ring this bell / Three times well, / It’s toll to clearly say / My treatment’s done, / This course is run, / And I’m on my way.”

The bell was donated by patient, Trudy Farrell. Trudy was approaching the end of her chemotherapy treatment and wanted to mark the big occasion in some way. After seeing something similar at another hospital, Trudy thought it would be a great idea to give Wigan’s Cancer Care Centre patients the chance to celebrate too.

Trudy explains “Ringing the bell, for me, symbolised the end of my treatment but more importantly, it symbolised the beginning of my life without treatments. I’m proud to be able to share that experience with other by ringing the bell”

Some patients may have to return for further treatments. But being able to celebrate the little victories is a very powerful feeling.  Trudy Farrell with the chemo bell

Janet Irvine, Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse said “Completing a course of chemotherapy is a momentous occasion and it was so fitting that Trudy was the first person to ring the bell. On her last day of treatment she brought her husband with her, she rang the bell and recited the poem. All the staff and patients in the unit cheered. It was such a very proud moment for Trudy.”

Janet went on to say she feels the ‘chemo bell’ may make the chemotherapy appointments a little more tolerable for the patients, as it gives them something to aim for. Janet continued “There is something quite fundamental about the bell and when the other chemo patients hear it ring, it gives them a sense of camaraderie and drive.”

Julie Barnes, Oncology Nurse said “Chemotherapy and its treatments are very complex; by contrast the bell is something very simple. Its presence in the centre will inspire patients for years to come, and we thank Trudy for that. Every time we hear the bell ring we will think of Trudy, her gift and the hopefulness that motivates anyone touched by cancer."