Bat Mitzvah Project Helps Cancer Patients Celebrate Final Treatment
Dec 13, 2017 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Thanks to 13-year-old Isabella Spar, Cedars-Sinai cancer patients have a new way to mark the end of radiation treatment. As part of her bat mitzvah project, Isabella raises money to buy and donate celebratory Good Luck bells to radiation centers around the country.
Isabella got the idea for Project Bell when her mom, Wendy Jeshion, underwent radiation treatment for a benign brain tumor. The hospital where she received treatment had a "new beginning" bell that would ring 3 times when a patient completed treatment.
"After seeing how much the bell-ringing ceremony meant to my mom and family, I decided that all radiation centers should have bells."
"When a patient rang the bell, everyone at the treatment center joined in to celebrate," says Isabella. "It gave so much hope—everyone talked about when they were going to ring the bell."
Isabella soon learned that only a few radiation centers had these bells. She decided to change that.
"After seeing how much the bell-ringing ceremony meant to my mom and family, I decided that all radiation centers should have bells," says Isabella. She started making and selling jewelry to finance her goal and has raised more than $5,000. So far, she's donated 7 bells to medical centers across the country, including Cedars-Sinai, and she's raised enough money for 5 more.
Isabella isn't stopping there. Her goal is to get a bell in every hospital that wants one before she leaves for college in 4 years.
"It inspires and motivates everyone in the waiting room. They know their turn will come too."
Each bell is installed along with a plaque inscribed with a poem to be read aloud each time the bell is rung. The plaque reads:
Ring this bell,
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say...
My treatment's done
The course is run And now I'm on my way.
Earlier this year, Isabella and her family visited Cedars-Sinai to dedicate the newly installed bell. Art Tostado, a 71-year-old prostate cancer patient, was one of the first to ring the bell following 5 weeks of radiation therapy.
"It feels wonderful to be a part of this beginning," he says. "Bells have been used for thousands of years to signify journeys. Every time I hear a bell, I'll think of this moment."
The ceremonial ringing isn't just meaningful for patients and their families; it's important for staff too.
"When a patient rang the bell, everyone at the treatment center joined in to celebrate. It gave so much hope—everyone talked about when they were going to ring the bell."
"We become like a family here, and we love celebrating this milestone with our patients," says Lynn Abess, associate director of the Department of Radiation Oncology. "It also inspires and motivates everyone in the waiting room. They know their turn will come too."