Young patients and their families celebrate the end of cancer treatment with bell ringing at USA Health Children's & Women's Hospital.
By Casandra Andrews
On a recent afternoon, a teenager hugged his doctor tight, tears streaming down his face. Surrounded by his family, the young man was one of 13 pediatric patients from USA Health Children's & Women's Hospital marking the completion of cancer treatment during an outdoor bell ringing ceremony.
The physician who hugged the young man, Hamayun Imran, M.D., leads the pediatric oncology program at Children’s & Women’s Hospital.
“It’s always a joy for us when children who have battled cancer come back with their families and loved ones and celebrate the end of their treatment,” Imran said. “We look forward to this day every year.”
This year’s bell ringing, on Sept. 22, was spaced out over a two-hour period so that each patient and family would have an opportunity to ring a large bell in the hospital’s courtyard as they reunited with their caregivers.
The former patients ranged in age from toddlers to tweens and teenagers. One girl, Carmen Hunter, who lost her leg to cancer, walked up to the ceremony with the help of her mom, a new prosthetic leg hidden beneath blue jeans. She was handed a microphone to address those gathered.
“Thank you so much for being there for me, especially when I was at my lowest,” Hunter said. “You guys are really, truly the best support system I could have ever asked for. All of you guys deserve the best.”
USA Health, the only academic health system on the upper Gulf Coast, treats children with cancer using a multidisciplinary approach that includes board-certified physicians, advanced practice providers, therapists, nurses and child life specialists who focus on caring for patients and supporting their families through a journey that sometimes can span several years.
The bell ringing ceremony is held in September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is a time to provide education and awareness about this important health issue and to highlight the need for more funding and research. Every two minutes somewhere in the world, a child is diagnosed with cancer, research shows, while one in 285 children growing up in the United States will develop cancer.
See more photos of the event on the Children's & Women's Facebook page.