CROWN POINT, Indiana - Joe Blandford recalls the day he finished seven weeks of radiation treatment for his cancer at the at Franciscan Health Burrell Cancer Center Crown Point.
"When I was done with my treatments, it was a big day for me," he said.
The Lowell, Indiana, man wanted the patients that followed him to have a way to acknowledge the completion of their treatment. He also wanted to demonstrate his gratitude for the care he received.
"The people who I had to deal with along the way, including the nurses, doctors and the other patients were just fabulous," Blandford said.
Blandford had been comparing notes with a close friend who went through cancer treatment at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. It gave him an idea of the treatment process. He also learned about how patients at Mayo ring a bell to let people know that they've completed their treatments.
Blandford and his wife, Cindi, were inspired to donate a similar bell to the Burrell Cancer Center for future patients to ring when they complete their radiation therapy treatments. On the bell is the following inscription:
Ring this bell Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatment's done
Its course is run
And I am on my way!
"I didn’t think donating the bell was a very big deal," Blandford said. "But at the same time, I did think it was a big deal when the nurses told me people look forward to ringing the bell, and when they ring that bell, everyone comes out and claps and cheers."
Blandford was not expecting a cancer diagnosis when he went to Franciscan Health for his regular checkup. "I wasn't feeling normal, so they sent me for an ultrasound."
After the ultrasound and a subsequent CT scan, Blandford was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. The good news was that his cancer was very treatable. He said the subsequent care he received at the Burrell Cancer Center was "top notch" and equal to the care his friend received at Mayo Clinic. Today, he is in 100 percent remission.
"At the Franciscan Health Burrell Cancer Center Crown Point, we have implemented several new state-of-the-art radiotherapy treatment technologies in the last 2 to 3 years, greatly benefiting our patients by improving therapeutic efficacy while reducing side effects," said Alan Coon MD, PhD, medical director of radiation oncology.
"As we continue to integrate new advances in cancer treatment, one thing that will remain the same is our staff's core commitment to compassionate care. Our front desk staff, nurses, radiation therapists, as well as dosimetry and physics staff, will all continue to provide our patients with compassionate care before and after the bell is rung. Because in cancer care, the most important treatment advance is the team, not the beam," Dr. Coon said.
"In looking back, the thing I appreciated most, had to be the kindness of the nurses," Blandford said. "My wife was my number one caregiver. I don't know what I would have done without her."