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In the News Archive

Radiation Oncology Bell Ringing Signifies Patient Milestones

  • November 25, 2009
  • Number of views: 6622

Jason Merrill
[email protected]

November 25, 2009, ST. LOUIS – For several months, MacArthur Woodruff has been watching other radiation oncology patients ring the bell hanging near the entrance to the office, and on September 22, Woodruff finally rang the bell for himself. Ringing the bell in radiation oncology at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine signifies the completion of radiation treatments, which is a huge milestone for many patients.

The bell was donated by Lisa Facer, a former patient who is also planning to donate another bell for the radiation oncology department at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.

“When you ring the bell it’s a liberating feeling,” says Facer. “You know you’ve completed the most difficult thing in your life and I gave the bell so others have this opportunity.”

While some patients battle cancer once, others battle it over and over again. Woodruff, a retired department of corrections officer from Jefferson City, Mo., has been battling various forms of cancer since 2000. Originally diagnosed with prostate cancer, Woodruff has also won the battle with colon cancer, cancer in his lung and lymph nodes, and now focuses on beating brain cancer.

In November 2008, Woodruff lost his balance and fell while with his son. His son took him to an ER in Jefferson City, where a brain tumor was found on an MRI. Because he was treated at Barnes-Jewish for his lung cancer, he decided to return to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for neurosurgery with Joshua Dowling, MD.

“I keep coming back to Barnes-Jewish because I’m comfortable here,” says Woodruff. “I have confidence in my doctors and all the other staff who work with them. I even have confidence that the housekeepers are doing their job correctly. That’s how comfortable I am here.”

Unfortunately, in July 2009, Woodruff was forced to return to his comfort zone at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for additional radiation treatment after another brain tumor was found. After several months of treatment at the Center for Advanced Medicine, Woodruff was able to ring the bell and leave for the last time.

“This time, I’m going to try to prevent it from coming back,” he says. “I’m going to eat more things like asparagus and other greens that they say are cancer-preventive. I will come back only to visit and say hi to my friends.”

Though he’s been through a lot of cancer treatments, Woodruff’s attitude has not wavered.

“I should have been gone a long time ago, but the doctors here must be doing something fantastic because I’m still around,” he says. “I’m going to make the best of wh

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