There is a new sound in the Radiation Oncology section of Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Sands Cancer Center at Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua. It’s the sound of a Chinese gong announcing to listeners that world-class patient care is happening there. I know. It sounded for me during two months of treatment under the Cancer Center’s technological marvel, its linear accelerator.
With the guidance of Dr. Ralph Brasacchio, Dr. Haoming Qiu and the caring support of the Center’s technicians and nurses, the daunting challenge of facing dozens of life-saving treatment sessions was made not only bearable, but personal, positive and uplifting.
In one of my early treatment sessions, when the radiation therapists heard that I am a professional musician — in particular, a percussionist — the therapists, with a bit of humor, suggested to each other that it would be most entertaining if I could strike a gong after each session. Little did they know that they were speaking to perhaps the only person within a thousand miles who had a house filled with gongs. As a former member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1965 to 1995, I had the resources to take their casual suggestion to heart.
A few days later there was a Chinese “Good Luck” gong sitting in the Cancer Center’s waiting area. Inscribed on the gong were two Chinese characters — “Tai” and “Loi” — which roughly translated says, “The good shall come; the bad will leave,” or in other words, “Good Luck,” a message quite suitable to the task for which the gong could now be purposefully employed by patients wanting to express themselves in a non-verbal positive manner.
Throughout history, bells in the west and gongs in the east have served to announce important human events such as births, weddings, holidays and victory in war. Now the Cancer Center’s “Good Luck” gong can in its own small way be of service too, in bringing a degree of lightness, humanity and hope to those who are enduring difficult times.
William L. Cahn is a Bloomfield resident.