Rear Admiral Irve Charles Le Moyne of Brownsville, Texas, was a steadfast and interesting character in American history. Once the highest-ranking Navy Seal and the Military Joint Special Operations Command founder, Admiral Le Moyne understood the importance of recognition, cohesion, and working in high-stakes situations. So, when Admiral Le Moyne was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, his trajectory through treatment and recovery was bound to be anything but normal.
In the Navy, bell ringing signifies time-tracking, general communication, alarms, ceremonies, and an indication of victory. Admiral Le Moyne saw an opportunity to bring the naval victory tradition forward to signify victory over cancer. On the final day of his treatment, the patients and medical staff of MD Anderson heard the chiming of Admiral Le Moyne’s brass bell through the hospital’s halls. He had completed his treatment and was claiming victory over cancer. The admiral donated the bell to MD Anderson. With it, he provided a small, rhyming poem for cancer patients to read on their last day of treatment. His poem “Ringing Out” reads:
Ring this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say, My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
Since MD Anderson established this small but significant gesture, the tradition of bell ringing for the end of cancer treatments has spread through the United States. When a brass bell rings through hospital halls, those listening to its chime understand that whoever is ringing the bell has struggled through the difficulty of cancer treatment, has endured, and is signifying their victory with pride and long-standing tradition. The bell’s toll stands as a testament to the endurance and persistence of patients battling cancer and the care and dedication of nurses and doctors who kindly treat patients through some of their most difficult days. As the tradition has spread, some hospitals have written their own poem in the vein of Admiral Le Moyne’s original “Ringing Out.” With UMC’s distinct connection to Texas Tech University, Professor of Poetry Dr. John Poch wrote a poem reflecting Admiral Le Moyne’s original rhyme with additional service to West Texas, UMC, its loving medical staff, and its incredible cancer patients fighting every day. His poem, “The Bell,” reads:
This bell now rings
And clearly sings
Of health restored.
As sweet as rains
On these Southern Plains— A divine reward.