Chemotherapy bell purchased at North Bay Regional Health Centre

Patients completing chemotherapy at the North Bay Regional Health Centre now have the chance to share and celebrate their important milestone with their fellow patients and care team.

Laurie Devine, former patient and clerical team lead in the emergency room, shared her experience and rang the newly unveiled chemotherapy bell for the first time in the unit.

“In February of 2020, I discovered a lump in my breast and went to see my family physician, Dr. Terry Rotondo, who immediately referred me for a biopsy," Devine said. "He reassured me, hoping it was an inflamed cyst. Even so, I was scared.”

It was a busy time in Laurie’s career and the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up.

“My biopsy confirmed I was HER2 cancer positive," she said.

"The news was like getting kicked in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe and the tears poured from my soul. Immediately, Dr. Rotondo started the process of referrals for treatment. Thinking about this day still makes me cry. It is a constant reminder that your life can change in a moment and life can’t be taken for granted."

Devine received treatment locally and in Sudbury. She completed all of her treatments Aug. 9 of this year.

“The love and support of my family and my NBRHC family was overwhelming and made this journey bearable," said Devine. "We don’t always appreciate the cost of advanced medical equipment and technology, until we need it."

Bells can be dated back to 2000 BCE and have played an important role in history.

“They have called us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast, and in times of crisis, to come together. Today we unveil a bell of celebration and hope,” said Paul Heinrich, hospital president and CEO.

“This bell is funded through kind donations and we thank our community for having an impact on patient experiences.”

The chemotherapy unit at the hospital has 10 treatment stations. Along with three internists, patients receive care from nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy techs, as well as admin support from the clerks.

Patients are also supported with services from social work, dieticians, diagnostic imaging and home care. In 2020 and so far in 2021, more than 2,700 treatments were performed for local patients.