Ringing the bell is a practice seen in cancer treatment centers after a successful end to chemotherapy and radiation. Cancer patients ring the bell three times to signify new beginnings and a stage of life left behind. Although most cancer patients agree you don’t leave your experience behind, particularly the mental strength and willpower required to undergo treatment.
Keeping with Tradition
Irve Le Moyne kick-started the tradition of the bell. As a U.S. Navy Admiral, his roots gave him strength, perseverance, and a ceremony he would share with a new family. In the Navy, ringing the bell can mean many things: the passage of time, an announcement, an alarm, and in Moyne’s case — a victory.
In 1996, the veteran attended his last chemotherapy treatment bringing a bell to celebrate a final battle won. He rang it three times while reciting this poem:
Ring this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatments done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
– Irve Le Moyne
Today, Moyne’s bell donation and a navy tradition have become a way for patients to celebrate their victories. His poem is in treatment centers everywhere, accompanied by a bell sounding three times to signify a mission accomplished.
Beyond the Bell
Cameron Gammon, a scribe at Forsyth Medical Center, recalls observing the mixed emotions surrounding ringing the bell,
“The bell is an emotional experience for everyone involved, including the patient, family, and staff. It helps empower the staff by allowing them to witness the effect of all their hard work. It’s a great experience seeing patients reach their goals after being with them throughout their whole journey. You feel as if you are ringing the bell with them.”
For some patients, it’s a time filled with family and friends cheering on their loved ones’ triumph, while for others, it’s a daunting experience, especially if it isn’t their first time ringing the bell or their treatment is indefinite. The bell’s purpose is to empower patients, but it can also cause bittersweet feelings to bubble to the surface.
That said, the bell symbolizes a massive accomplishment and the strength patients possess — something you can’t take away. So, whether cancer patients ring the bell or not, it serves as a great reminder to celebrate and support the people behind it.
Help Ring in Support
At Bakes for Breast Cancer, our mission is to fund new research and treatment for breast cancer, one sweet treat at a time.
Here are a few ways you can show your support by helping us raise funding for breast cancer research below:
- Bake. Host a community or office bake sale with us! You can find more details here.
- Eat. Buy a sweet treat from one of our participating establishments! To find a location near you, click here.
- Volunteer. We need individuals passionate about breast cancer research in the following areas: fundraising, market research, event planning, public relations, content writing, or business development. If this is you, sign up or learn more!
- Sponsor. Calling all businesses and foundations who want to make a difference. Help us spread our mission, grow fundraising events, and raise money to fund breast cancer research. To get involved or learn more, click here.
- Donate. All funds go to breast cancer doctors dedicated to finding a cure. Support and donate to our non-profit Bakes for Breast Cancer here.