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Nurses ring bell of hope for oncology patients

Monday August 11, 2014
Oncology patient Quintine Burgess rings the new Hope Bell in the inpatient oncology unit at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The bell was made possible through the efforts of nurses in the oncology unit to mark patients’ completion of cancer treatment.
Oncology patient Quintine Burgess rings the new Hope Bell in the inpatient oncology unit at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The bell was made possible through the efforts of nurses in the oncology unit to mark patients’ completion of cancer treatment.
(Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Hospital)
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Bonita Ball, RN, MSN, nurse manager of the inpatient oncology unit at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, was making her usual daily rounds when she met 37-year-old Quintine Burgess, who was finishing her last day of treatment after six months of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, according to a news release.

According to the release, Burgess told Ball, “I made it to this day and I just wish I could ring the bell. I was told you don’t have a bell for me to ring.”

Determined to give Burgess the closure and hope she needed, Ball and staff started making inquires until they located a dinner bell in the hospital. Bearing balloons, the bell and a cake, staff gathered in Burgess’ room on her last day of treatment as she was preparing to go home with her teenage daughter. Together, the staff read aloud a poem Ball wrote especially for Burgess.

“Just recalling that day fills my eyes with tears of joy, hope, and the feeling of gratitude for life,” Ball said in the release. “In all my years of nursing, I have to say this is one of my highest moments that I will never, ever forget.”

Ball and her staff wanted to be able to give all their cancer patients the chance to ring a bell to celebrate the major milestone of completing their therapy. On June 6, Burgess was invited back to the inpatient oncology unit for the dedication of a Hope Bell. The new Hope Bell is mounted above a brass plate inscribed with the poem Ball created for Burgess. Burgess was the first patient to christen the new bell, ringing it as staff and guests applauded and cheered. On June 18, a second Hope Bell dedication was held in the Abramson Cancer Center at the hospital.


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