Cancer patients ring out victory

Licci Powell, seated left, and Neil Cox, seated right, were honored as the first chemotherapy patients to celebrate the completion of their chemotherapy by ringing a newly installed bell at Cayman Islands Hospital on Feb. 4, World Cancer Day.

Cancer patients can now literally ring in a new chapter in their lives once they complete chemotherapy treatments.

A new bell installed at the chemotherapy unit at Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town gives patients the opportunity to celebrate the end of the often-grueling treatment by chiming out the news. Two patients, Neil Cox and Licci Powell, rung the bell for the first time on World Cancer Day, Feb. 4.

Ceremonies marking the end of chemotherapy have become standard practice in treatment facilities across the world, according to the Health Services Authority, which operates the hospital. The HSA and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society felt a bell was most appropriate for the George Town facility, in light of Cayman’s rich seafaring history. The two entities are responsible for providing the new bell.

Jennifer Weber, operations manager of the Cancer Society, said the bell allows cancer patients to not only mark a happy end to treatment, but to inspire others. She noted that eight rings on a ship’s bell indicates all is clear.

Ms. Weber said that during the World Cancer Day event, while the bell was being rung, another patient called to her from behind a nearby partition.

“She got excited,” Ms. Weber said. “She said, ‘I only have one more treatment and I’ll get to ring the bell.’ It warmed my heart because it’s something that people can look forward to.”

The bell used on World Cancer Day was borrowed from the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association. Ms. Weber said another bell is now in place, but she is hoping it will only be a temporary one.

“We would love to find a bell that has some history,” she said, “like an old ship’s bell. If someone has one, we would love to hear about it.”

The Cancer Society can be reached at 949-7618.