Survivor’s bell rings out strength for cancer patients at Karmanos Cancer Institute

Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing is typically a quiet area. Expert doctors and staff speak in tones indicative of the calm, healing environment, and a serene fish tank helps set patients and their families at ease as they receive cancer treatment.

There is one exception to that tranquility, and it’s a celebration worthy of making some noise for.

Patients are invited to ring a gold bell after finishing their last day of treatment. The joyful sound is a symbol of strength for about 6 to 10 patients a week as they finish their radiation, and a beacon of hope to those still receiving treatment.

Michele Rachal recently took her turn at the bell as she completed her last of a month-long series of radiation treatments for breast cancer. “It feels really good to ring the bell,” said Rachal. “Radiation is a process, and I’ve been through it and I’m done. This is my day.”

Cancer survivors’ bells are becoming more popular across the country as caregivers look for new ways to celebrate a patient’s journey through treatment. Michael Huberts, Karmanos Cancer Institute medical physicist, decided to add the bell last year, and the reception has been resoundingly positive.

“The bell is really becoming an industry standard,” said Huberts. “I knew we needed one to give patients a goal to look forward to and a moment of happiness for all of us here to come together and recognize their strength and the amazing care our staff provides.”

The Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing is now the first and only cancer center in the Lansing region to be accredited as a Center of Excellence in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

The survivor’s bell is just one more way that the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing goes above and beyond to help patients have the best possible experience during a difficult time in their lives.

“The staff members here are very nice. They were all out here and gave me hugs,” said Rachal. “They want to make you feel comfortable and important and say, ‘Hey, you’ve done it!’”

Go here to learn more about how McLaren Greater Lansing is doing what’s best in cancer care.