Thursday, July 19, 2018
Health

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURG

Sister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby.

"So often people complete their treatment and they go out the door," she said. "Now we have that symbolism. ‘Yeah, I’m free now. This is my new life.’?"

Then, on the one-year anniversary of her own completion of radiation therapy, McNally rang the bell.

"It’s an important part of the healing process," she told the room full of survivors, who lined up Friday to ring the bell for each year of their survival, ranging from 33 years of being cancer free to Gina Forgetta, who completed her radiation therapy earlier that day.

"It’s been a long road and this is the end," said Forgetta, who had been coming to St. Anthony’s for the past six weeks for radiation on her jaw.

The cancer center at St. Anthony’s was built in 1991. Since then, the mortality rate for cancer as a whole has fallen by about 23 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

Tom McMahon, director of oncology at St. Anthony’s, said while that number isn’t applicable to each type of cancer, on the whole, cancer survival rates have "improved dramatically."

Some of that has come as a result of early detection and identifying prevention factors, some from improved technology in treatment.

"Some cancer rates haven’t improved dramatically, and it’s frustrating when you don’t see that," he said. "But we say to patients the day they’ve been diagnosed, they become a survivor, whether they survive for two weeks or 31 years."

McNally was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2016. She began radiation in February 2017, coming into the center for treatment Mondays through Fridays. The process, she said, could be solitary and frightening.

While technicians and doctors prepare the patient, he or she must enter the radiation vault alone.

McNally remembers repeating to herself "Be still and know I am God and love" until each session was over.

"It’s not painful," she said. "But there’s always a fear of the unknown."

While each person’s journey is different, McMahon said bringing closure to a successful treatment stage is an important step in holistic recovery.

Sandra Bailey, Cancer Center manager, said they often tell patients they hope to never see them again.

McNally, who was cancer-free after seven weeks of radiation, said it’s helpful to have an external symbol like the bell.

"It allows you to freely get on with life," she said. "It doesn’t happen that soon, but after a fashion."

Contact Divya Kumar at [email protected] Follow @divyadivyadivya.

     
Comments
Sarasota man dies from infectious bacteria after eating raw oysters

Sarasota man dies from infectious bacteria after eating raw oysters

A Sarasota man died of an infectious bacteria after eating raw oysters.The bacteria, called Vibrio vulnificus, is often associated with eating raw or under-cooked shellfish or entering into warm coastal waters with exposed wounds.The 71-year-old Sara...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Soy, almond ‘milk’ don’t come from a cow, so they may soon be called ‘drinks’

Soy, almond ‘milk’ don’t come from a cow, so they may soon be called ‘drinks’

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks don’t come from cows, so regulators may soon ask them to stop calling themselves "milk." The Food and Drug Administration is signaling that it plans to start enforcing a federal standard that defines "milk" as coming ...
Published: 07/18/18
Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

In most places across America, nursing homes are facing an acute shortage of workers to take care of the country’s growing population of aging and disabled patients. But not in Florida. A Kaiser Family Foundation report published this month found tha...
Published: 07/17/18
So far, so good. Doctors at Tampa General find success with a device that fights often-fatal aneurysms

So far, so good. Doctors at Tampa General find success with a device that fights often-fatal aneurysms

TAMPA — Dr. Murray Shames holds a flexible, lightweight tube as wide as two garden hoses pushed together in his office at Tampa General Hospital. The polyester tube, and its thinner fastening branches with metal wiring, will be attached inside someon...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/16/18
Sunday Conversation: Sherry Hoback looks to move Tampa Family Health Centers to the next level

Sunday Conversation: Sherry Hoback looks to move Tampa Family Health Centers to the next level

TAMPA — Taking over for an administrator who has run a company for almost 20 years can be daunting. • But Sherry Hoback prepared for some time to replace Charles Bottoms as CEO of the Tampa Family Health Centers, a non-profit organization that operat...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/15/18
How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

The charitable organization that owns a 20 percent stake in St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Health hospital is working with local governments to improve the public’s health, part of a strategy to make a difference in new and often subtle ways. The Foundati...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
New York organ collection agency, nation’s second-largest, threatened with closure

New York organ collection agency, nation’s second-largest, threatened with closure

The government is threatening to close one of the country’s largest "organ procurement organizations" for poor performance, a rare move against a nonprofit group that collects kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs used in transplantation.In a lett...
Published: 07/11/18
Retirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors

Retirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors

In 2016, as Kenneth MacLean was about to turn 90 and was looking to move to a retirement community, he had a question for Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Maryland."I asked, ‘Would there be many gays here? Would gays be welcomed?’ " MacLean,...
Published: 07/09/18
The other victims: First responders to horrific events often suffer in solitude

The other victims: First responders to horrific events often suffer in solitude

The day a gunman fired into a crowd of 22,000 people at the country music festival in Las Vegas, hospital nursing supervisor Antoinette Mullan was focused on one thing: saving lives.She recalls dead bodies on gurneys across the triage floor, a trauma...
Published: 07/09/18
Put your best feet forward with this health, footwear and beauty advice

Put your best feet forward with this health, footwear and beauty advice

All of a sudden, it’s hot and sunny everywhere — summer, officially — and even the shiest, palest, most woebegone toes are peeking out from their hiding places up North. They’ve been scrubbed and buffed, their nails clipped and polished. And they’re...
Published: 07/06/18