Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Calling time on the “end of treatment” bell

Celebrating the end of treatment appropriately

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 16 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4675
  1. Eric J Watts, retired consultant haematologist
  1. Brentwood CM15 8LH, UK
  1. eric.watts4{at}

Taylor’s comments on the “end of treatment” bell remind us that people handle challenges differently, particularly regarding cancer—a rollercoaster journey with times of hope and disappointment, of excitement and achievement, and of resignation.1

I have also been treated for recurrence but before the trend for bell ringing and when the prevailing moods at the radiotherapy department were fear, misery, and embarrassment.

We have progressed since then, and chemo units generally foster a spirit of realistic optimism. But some palliative patients might be better treated at a separate time or place from patients with good prognosis and those being treated with curative intent.

Units vary, but I have been very impressed with how some are able to foster a sense of shared experience and fellowship, enabling all patients to feel understood and supported; allowing appropriate celebration while being mindful of those less fortunate.

Completing treatment deserves recognition, and we should also attend to the needs of those who are troubled by it.


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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