A New Tradition in the Department of Radiation Oncology

The “ringing of the bell” is now a time of celebration for cancer patients and staff in the UTMC Radiation Oncology Department.  The idea for this new tradition was inspired by Lenny Rheault, a radiation oncology patient and volunteer, who participated in this tradition when treated at another facility. This widespread tradition was introduced in 1996 at MD Anderson when U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Irve Le Moyne, a patient with head and neck cancer, installed a brass bell at the main campus Radiation Treatment Center. The bell is rung three times symbolizing the restoration of balance, harmony and life energy at the end of a patient’s radiation treatment. 

Terry Love, a RN in Radiation Oncology, and her husband Jim donated the bell and plaque after being inspired by Lenny’s story. They searched and found the beautiful brass bell at a navy yard. Terry stated, “We just had to celebrate with our patients on their last treatment day.”

The unveiling of the new bell was accompanied by a small ceremony and a blessing of the bell by Chaplain Anne Sprouse. Lenny and his wife Susie were the honorary guests. Jody McIntyre who had just finished her last treatment was pleasantly surprised and eager to be part of the ceremony and the first patient to ring the bell in celebration. On that day, the bell was rung 5 more times by patients who had finished their treatment.

Ellen Perkins, who has her office near the bell stated, “Every time I hear the bell ring I give thanks for our team members who help our survivors along their journey.”