The North West Cancer Centre in Derry has installed an ‘End of Treatment Bell’ for cancer patients who choose to publicly celebrate and mark the end of their treatment.
The bell was donated to the cross-border treatment centre at Altnagelvin by Gabrielle Hall, a nurse in England.
Gabreille had seen the bell in use at her local cancer unit and as her grandfather, John Doran, from Derry, was going through chemotherapy at the North West Cancer Centre 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, who attended the launch of the bell, 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.”
The bell is situated within the radiotherapy waiting area and 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.
As well as Mr Doran, 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.
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.”