- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - When the bell rings at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, it’s time for celebration.

The big brass bell that hangs near the nurses’ station is rung only by young patients who have finished chemotherapy or radiation.

On Jan. 12, Janet Pruneau, of O’Fallon, Ill., got her turn. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1gQU5o5 ) reports that the 5-year-old was tentative at first but with encouragement from family, friends and hospital staff, she rang the bell six times for each round of chemotherapy she had endured.

“I’d like her to ring it 100 times if she wants to,” said Kathryn Lenhardt, Janet’s grandmother.

Doctors found a tumor in the back of Janet’s head last spring. Biopsy results were inconclusive so Janet became one of the first children to have genetic sequencing to help doctors with a treatment plan.

She spent more time at the hospital than at home over the past several months, including Halloween, her birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. She will have regular scans to check for recurrence for years to come.

About 50 kids ring the bell each year at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The charity Friends of Kids with Cancer provides a party with cake and presents for the kids who want it.

“Our families have loved it because they actually look forward to this day now,” said Jenny Brandt, a child life specialist at the hospital. “Our staff get very emotional, because it also symbolizes all the hard work they have done with the patients and families.”

Dr. Emily Walling said she’ll miss hearing Janet and her roommate’s giggles echo across the oncology floor - but she’s thrilled her chemo treatments are over.

“It’s a privilege to take them through this difficult time,” Walling said. “And it’s encouragement to other patients that we can beat this.”


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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