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The meaning behind ringing the bell


A ringing bell can signify many different things. For example, it might mean church is about to begin, dinner is ready, it’s time to wake up or school is over for the day. At Texas Children’s Cancer Center, a ringing bell signifies something far more meaningful – it means one of our patients has reached his or her long-awaited end-of-treatment.

As a hematology and oncology nurse, a ringing bell means an end to an incredibly long and often very difficult journey for our patients and their families. As health care team members, we are on the journey with them – every step of the way.

When I started working in the Cancer Center 15 years ago I thought it would be a sad place. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to work here for very long. To my surprise, the Cancer Center is far from the sad place I had expected it to be.

The staff is amazing and the patients and families are awesome. Where else can you go to work, stick patients with needles and yet, at the end of the day, they come looking for you to hug you and tell you they love you? Although it’s hard to believe, some patients don’t want to go home because they are having so much fun.

Our patients and families experience difficult times during their treatment. Chemo may make them sick, they may pick up an illness because their immune system is compromised, they may get many needle sticks and endure long hospital stays that take them away from their families. We try to make special occasions like birthdays and holidays as special for them as possible during their hospital stays.

I cannot begin to imagine how our families feel when their child receives a cancer diagnosis – devastated, in disbelief and fearful. Although I cannot imagine what they are feeling, I do know our Cancer Center team is here to help in every way possible. For example, while I am giving care to my patients, I find ways to have fun and keep their minds distracted. This does wonders to ease some of the fear and worry from their families.

It is painful to see our patients and their families hurt and suffer through treatments.  However, it is such a beautiful sight to see them ring the bell!

Mindi Bradford, nurse