Thursday, September 20, 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
Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

WASHINGTON — Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, says a federal watchdog agency that found a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted...
Published: 09/17/18
Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

The prominent New York City gynecologist didn’t bother to conceal his disdain."Stop practicing Google medicine," Lina Kharnak remembers the doctor chiding her when she asked about a possible cause of her worsening leg and back pain. The disease about...
Published: 09/16/18
Updated: 09/17/18
Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Since Saturday morning, patients and staff in Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion and Rehabilitation Center have been advised against using running water.As of Sunday afternoon, it was not known when the recommended ban would be lifted.According t...
Published: 09/16/18
Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

What makes you mad? Dropping your new phone in the toilet — after deciding not to take the extra coverage that would have replaced it? Being cut off in traffic? Having a parking place "stolen" from you? Doing dishes after shopping for and cooki...
Published: 09/14/18
Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

The toxic algae bloom known as Red Tide has left a trail of dead fish in its wake up the western coast of Florida. The bloom that had been wreaking havoc on our southern neighbors has now made its way to the Tampa Bay area. High concentrations of the...
Published: 09/14/18
In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

The health care business in Florida and across the nation is the midst of monumental change as insurers, hospital chains and even retailers begin to venture outside their traditional roles. Hospitals are getting into the insurance end of the busines...
Published: 09/17/18
Calling teen vaping ‘epidemic,’ officials weigh flavor ban

Calling teen vaping ‘epidemic,’ officials weigh flavor ban

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials are sounding the alarm about teenage use of e-cigarettes, calling the problem an "epidemic" and ordering manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market. The w...
Published: 09/12/18
Doctors explore lifting barriers to living organ donation

Doctors explore lifting barriers to living organ donation

WASHINGTON — Surgeons turned down Terra Goudge for the liver transplant that was her only shot at surviving a rare cancer. Her tumor was too advanced, they said — even though Goudge had a friend ready to donate, no matter those odds. "I have a living...
Published: 09/10/18
Florida has more people using Obamacare than any other state. Will that continue in 2019?

Florida has more people using Obamacare than any other state. Will that continue in 2019?

With just about two months to go before the start of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, local advocates say they are worried they won’t have nearly enough resources to get the word out to consumers about some confusing changes this year. Mo...
Published: 09/06/18
Updated: 09/07/18
Airport security trays carry more cold germs than toilets, study finds

Airport security trays carry more cold germs than toilets, study finds

LONDON — Airport security is there to protect you, but it may also give you the sniffles — or worse.To all the places and surfaces we’ve been warned are teeming with germs or bacteria — your pets, the subway seat, airplane cabins, the ATM — add the a...
Published: 09/05/18