Ringing in treatment milestone

RING RING: Cancer survivor and Whyalla Health Advisory Committee member Mary Holmes rings the bell with local Medical Oncologist Professor Sankha Mitra.
RING RING: Cancer survivor and Whyalla Health Advisory Committee member Mary Holmes rings the bell with local Medical Oncologist Professor Sankha Mitra.

A new bell has been installed at the Whyalla Hospital Cancer Centre to give cancer patients who have completed their treatment a way of celebrating a remarkable achievement.

The bell was funded by the Whyalla Hospital Health Advisory Council (HAC), with the HAC being inspired by the installation of a similar bell at the Lyell McEwen Chemotherapy Unit in Adelaide.

Cancer survivor and HAC member Mary Holmes who recently completed her treatment was at the Whyalla Hospital on Tuesday to give the bell its first ring.

Medical Oncologist Professor Sankha Mitra said the bell was a way of addressing the psychological impact that cancer treatment can have on the patient.

"We are a busy cancer unit and we're seeing a lot of patients because cancer is so common - the number of patients coming to Whyalla has almost doubled over the past 18 months," he said.

"This is the first step to addressing the psychological side of things for those patients, ideally we would like to have a psychologist providing psychological support in the future.

"Patients can be referred if they have particular issues but in terms of the general patients going through we can only look after their physical side effects."

Prof. Mitra said the bell also gave the patients a cathartic way to celebrate enduring cancer treatment.

"It gives them a bit of closure on that chapter as well," he said.

Whyalla Hospital HAC Sandra Plew said cancer treatment could be 'horrific' medically for patients.

"So to be able to "ring the bell" on completion can be uplifting physiologically," she said.

The Whyalla Hospital will be hosting an Open Day on Saturday, November 23 at the hospital gardens from 10am to 1pm with all welcome to attend and meet members of the Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network Governing Board.

A free sausage sizzle will be held on the day as well.