Patient with Rare Cancer is First to Ring Bell at Siteman-South County
Rebecca Crump, second from right, was the first patient to “ring the bell” at Siteman-South County upon completing her course of treatment. Sharing the important occasion with her were, from left, her children, Colton and Peyton; her husband, Donald; and Parag Parikh, MD, director of radiation oncology for the facility.
On Feb. 15, Rebecca Crump became the first patient to "ring the bell" at the newly opened Siteman Cancer Center-South County. This celebratory tradition is practiced in cancer centers across the country to mark a significant milestone – the end of a patient's chemotherapy
or radiation treatment. For Crump, 32, who was diagnosed with duodenal cancer in spring 2012, ringing the bell was a happy ending to what began as a potentially fatal event.
"One day in April 2012, I was at the gym and thought I was getting bronchitis because I was having trouble breathing," says Rebecca, who lives in Farmington, Mo. "When I started
driving home, I realized I wasn't going to make
it because my airway was shutting off. I stopped at an urgent care center, walked in and collapsed. I remember the medical staff saying my blood oxygen level was 62 percent, well
below the normal 95 to 100 percent."
Rebecca was rushed to a local hospital, where her hemoglobin – the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen throughout the body – was measured at 4 grams per deciliter, well below the normal of 12 to 16.
"The doctors told me that if I had gone home to bed that day, I probably never would have woken up," says Rebecca.
Admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit, Rebecca began receiving blood transfusions and underwent an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to determine why she was losing blood. A tissue biopsy led to the discovery of cancer in her duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Of all gastrointestinal cancers, only 1 percent occurs in the duodenum.
"My primary care physician immediately sent my biopsy results to the Siteman Cancer Center," says Rebecca. "Siteman was definitely my first choice. My mother has been receiving treatment there for lymphoma for 18 years, so I know what a wonderful place it is."
"Our South County location is making it easier for hundreds of thousands of area residents to benefit from the world-class care offered by a top-10 U.S. cancer center," says Timothy Eberlein, MD, Siteman Cancer Center's director.
After undergoing surgery to remove the cancer, Rebecca began receiving chemotherapy treatments at Siteman's west county location in Creve Coeur, Mo., until Siteman-South County opened. She finished her combination chemotherapy/radiation treatments at the new facility.
"Siteman-South County's location at Interstate 55 and Butler Hill Road is so convenient, especially for people living in
communities south of St. Louis, like Farmington." says Rebecca. "The facility offers a comfortable setting for both patients and their caregivers, and the staff is so welcoming. That's really important when, as with radiation, you need to receive treatment every day over a period of time."
When Rebecca rang the bell, she had more than her family at her side. Surrounded by her team of nurses and Parag Parikh, MD, her radiation oncologist, she celebrated the completion of her treatments among enthusiastic cheers and applause.
Siteman Cancer Center-South County is located near the intersection of Interstate 55 and Butler Hill Road at 5225 Midamerica Plaza. The 37,000-square-foot outpatient center offers physician consultations, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The center also provides access to clinical trials as well as on-site laboratory and retail pharmacy services. For more information, please visit sitemansouth.wustl.edu.