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Overview: Press & NewsDate created: 26.09.2018

Since this year, the WPE has been saying goodbye to its patients after their last radiotherapy treatment with a melodious ritual: children as well as adults can ring a bell in the foyer of the building as part of a small ceremony, literally bringing the therapy to a close. The purchase and installation of the bell was made possible thanks to funds from the University Medicine Foundation and the work of the WPE’s precision mechanics workshop. The ritual is part of a comprehensive concept designed to brighten up children’s time during therapy at the WPE. Another component: the “courage bead necklaces”.

“This melodious ritual is not only intended to symbolise completion and a new beginning, but also to honour the strength and power of the patients and their families,” says qualified social pedagogue Nicole Stember, who provides psychosocial care for young patients and their families at the WPE. “The children are allowed to show loud and clear and with a good dose of pride that they have completed another therapy module – and can thus motivate one or two patients to persevere as well.” At the same time, the small ceremony also provides an opportunity for WPE staff and patients to say goodbye to each other, “after all, our doctors, the MTRA and the outpatient clinic have provided intensive support to the children and their families over several weeks”.

The bell was inaugurated in spring by the German actor Henning Baum, who was enthusiastic about the idea: “It is impressive what you are achieving here at the West German Proton Therapy Centre Essen. I have great respect for your work.” The bell is rung either by the young patients themselves or by their parents. “And if adult patients wish to powerfully announce to themselves and others that they have completed this treatment module, they are of course also free to ring the bell.” The inscription “Finish with what was, be happy with what is and open to what is to come” symbolises the aims of the concept once again.

The new ritual is explicitly based on the clinic’s philosophy, which places people at the centre. The bell is part of a comprehensive overall concept that aims to consciously accompany children in particular during their therapy at the WPE and support them not only in their physical recovery, but also in their mental well-being.

This also includes the issuing and presentation of a “certificate of bravery” and the personalised production of a “courage pearl necklace”, for which the children can collect individual pearls after each radiotherapy session. Nicole Stember: “We give out very special beads on very special occasions, for example on birthdays, during treatment on a public holiday or when additional encouragement is needed on extremely stressful days.”

“Our “Glück-auf-Glocke” and the “Mutperlenkette” are well received by patients. With all these measures, we want to bring colour, joy and confidence into the often dreary and stressful day-to-day treatment. It is important to recognise the great achievements of the children and families as a whole. Appropriate rituals and rewards give strength at a time when many families are powerless. Anyone who looks at the smiling faces of the children when the bell rings will quickly realise that the bright sound of the bell will resonate for a long time to come.”