Belfast Telegraph

Bell of hope for children finishing cancer therapy

The symbolic bell which has been installed at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children
The symbolic bell which has been installed at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A new symbol of hope has been installed at the Children's Haematology Ward at The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

All the young people walking out of the Belfast hospital free from cancer will now mark the moment by ringing a bell to signify the end of their treatment journey.

The idea for the bell in the unit came from teenager Baillie Denvir, a patient who had travelled to America for proton therapy.

While there, Baillie had the chance to ring their bell once he had completed his treatment there.

"He wanted to have something he could pass on to those children going through their treatment now and in the future, having something to say that this is the end and there is hope," his mum Terri said.

Consultant Paediatric Oncologist Dr Robert Johnston said the new bell will provide both families and staff with a moment to remember.

"We contacted the End of Treatment Bells charity run by Tracey and Phil Payton from Manchester," he explained.

"Their daughter was diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer in 2003 and received treatment in Oklahoma where they first came across the bell.

"They collaborated with the Maria Watt Foundation, which supplies bells on a charitable basis to many centres across the UK. They've helped provide over 2,000 of the bells across the country.

"We see it as a symbol of hope for young people coming to the end of a phase of their journey involving a variety of different types of cancer therapy."

Ward Sister Bernie McShane said it will provide many emotional memories. "There's a wide range of staff involved in the care of a child or young person with cancer," she said.

"The journey can be varied in length between three months and three years and can involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. It's different for every family, but it impacts emotionally.

"Staff get involved with the families and that can be difficult as sometimes the young people move on to clinics out of the ward and they don't get to see them complete their journey.

"It's very significant that we now have something to mark the end of those journeys. Staff can now have a video to see the joy when that family has a good result."

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