Health Sciences Campus

Bell of Hope dedicated at cancer center

Joseph Purington talks about his cancer care before ringing the Bell of Hope. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.  (Mar. 5, 2010)  —  Joseph Purington paused before becoming the first cancer patient to ring the new Bell of Hope at the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center.

"I love you all and everything you've done for me, and God bless" he said to the gathered staff and physicians before taking the rope attached to the clapper and sending a few rings around the lobby.

The bell will allow cancer patients completing radiation treatment at East Carolina University to send a loud, clear message of hope to their fellow patients.

"Not only for me, but for all the patients that come behind me," said Purington, who lives in Pinetops and works at the Sara Lee bakery in Tarboro. He came to Greenville every weekday for eight weeks for radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Before becoming a patient himself, he helped arrange for Sara Lee baked goods to be served to patients at the center.

The bell, donated by the group Friends of the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center, was dedicated Friday, March 5.

"Ringing the bell will give patients a way to let others know they're one step closer to overcoming cancer and regaining their health," said Dr. Ernest Larkin, interim director of the cancer center.

Cancer patients who undergo radiation treatment might have 40 or more treatments, several each week for several weeks, to slow or kill their tumors. Murrell McLeod, chair of the Friends group and a cancer survivor, said the bell gives patients a way to mark a milestone in their treatment.

Enoch Clinton of Rocky Mount, who last year underwent Gamma Knife radiosurgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for brain cancer and lung cancer, said giving patients hope is vital.

"I know what these people go through, and I know the effort it takes to get them through it," he said. Referring to the physicians and staff at the cancer center, he added: "They give you that ray of hope. That's very important. They let you know everything is not so bleak."

Other members of the Friends of the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center include longtime ECU faculty member and cancer specialist Dr. Mary Raab; Joel Butler, vice president of external affairs at University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and an ECU trustee; and Kathryn Walker, wife of ECU cancer specialist Dr. Paul Walker.

The bell is mounted on a custom-made maple plaque built by Greenville cabinetmaker Paul Gianino.

For more information about the Friends of the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center, call McLeod at 252-531-3672.

Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482