Bells for cancer patients


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    Ceremony Rings in New Tradition at Outpatient Cancer Center

    STONY BROOK, N.Y., December 19, 2008 - Members of several Suffolk County Fire Departments gathered with the staff of

    Pictured, from left, in back, are: Steven Strongwater, M.D., CEO, Stony Brook University Medical Center; Richard N. Fine, M.D., Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine; John Kennedy, Suffolk County Legislator; Ron Barz; former Chief of the Hauppauge Fire Department; Daniel Losquadro, Suffolk County Legislator. Patients, from bottom left, are: Zachary Liberty, of Bellport; Andy Argueta, of Mastic; Carmen Cali, of Brentwood; Susan Swift of Yaphank, and Tencha Gomez of Ronkonkoma.

    Stony Brook University Cancer Center, patients, and their families, to commemorate the completion of chemotherapy for patients with a bell ringing ceremony. Two bells, donated from the Bohemia and East Brentwood Fire Departments, were displayed in the lobby of the SBU Outpatient Center and rung by patients, a tradition that will continue at the Center.

     "Two-thirds of all the firefighters at this ceremony are cancer survivors, and we are all grateful to the doctors and others who helped us get through our treatments," said Ron Barz, cancer survivor and Former Chief of the Hauppauge Fire Department, to a crowd of some 100 people. Barz and fellow Suffolk firefighters donated the bells to the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, as a symbolic way to ring in good news. The Cancer Community Advisory Group for SBUMC came up with the idea of the bells.

     Several adult and two pediatric patients rang the bells and received certificates and mini bells at the ceremony. The adult patients rang the larger 60-pound bell and the children rang a smaller one.

     Shirley Strum Kenny, President, Stony Brook University, who was unable to make the ceremony, said in a prepared statement:  "This new tradition signals not just an ending, but a new beginning, and a reason for hope. For patients to say ‘I have made it; I have reached my destination, I have completed chemotherapy,' is a story worth telling."

    "The ringing of the bell reminds patients of what they have accomplished, and it reminds us to continue our work in the areas of prevention, early diagnosis, and better treatments to improve survival rates," says Theodore Gabig, M.D., Chief, Division of Medical Hematology/Oncology.

     "When patients ring these bells, it is symbolic for putting cancer in the past and moving on with life," added Robert I. Parker, M.D., Director of Pediatric Hematology and Associate Director of the Cancer Center.

     The bells will be located permanently in the adult and pediatric chemotherapy waiting areas of the Cancer Center. Housed in the Center for Outpatient Services at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a 65,000 square foot facility that opened in 2007, cancer outpatient services include Medical Oncology, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Surgical Oncology, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center, Outpatient Imaging Center, and Center for Pain Management.