Bell to Celebrate Life Honors Memory of Team Member Bianca Sitko-Atkinson

Dr. Laurence Belkoff rings bell in memory of Bianca. To his left is Dr. Nicos Nicolaou and to his right is Tracy Stakelbeck. Around them are more members of our UC family.

On November 6, 2017, a large bell in the waiting room of our Radiation Oncology Center in Bala Cynwyd was dedicated to Bianca Sitko-Atkinson, an inspiring member of our cancer-fighting team who lost her own battle with ovarian cancer this year. The bell in her honor will now ring for every cancer patient who completes treatment. 
We become close to our patients since they are usually here five days a week for therapy, explains Nicolas Nicolaou, MD, oncologist and Medical Director of Urologic Consultants’ Radiation Oncology Center. “We always celebrate the end of a patient’s treatment by giving certificates and pins and by thanking each patient for being with us for care. Patients also express appreciation for us. It’s a special time,” he says. 
One patient told Tracy Stakelbeck, the Center’s manager, that some cancer survivors celebrate the end of treatment by ringing a large bell. He asked Tracy if she had a bell. “We had a small bell that was not met with much excitement – but this gave me an idea,” Tracy says. “We needed a big bell--something everyone in the Center could hear. Something that would convey shared enthusiasm, excitement and hope.”
When Tracy thought about what the bell could symbolize, she thought of Bianca. “Our team fights cancer every day and stays positive for our patients, but losing Bianca had impacted morale,” Tracy says. “I immediately knew we should dedicate the bell to Bianca. In addition to being inspiring in her own fight, Bianca always made things easier on patients and the team because she was very funny and a practical joker. We especially needed to remember that part of her.”
Bianca held many positions over 20 years with Urologic Consultants, often managing complex issues. Her regular work included patient liaison activities, surgical scheduling and assisting in medical procedures. At times she worked with COO, Bandana Jha on operational projects, and with marketing on projects like the prostate cancer support group mailings. She said she found this very “zen and meaningful.” That work led her to volunteer with other cancer groups and causes. Bianca was also known as a good friend who always had a supportive word and a helping hand. On Halloween, it was a fake hand tucked under her scrub shirt that would fall off when you shook it. Everyone would laugh.
“Even when she was fighting for her life, Bianca always had something to give to others,” says Laurence Belkoff, DO, Urologic Consultants’ Managing Partner, who worked with Bianca throughout her time at UC.  “This is for Bianca,” Belkoff said as he rang the bell for the first time in her honor. 

Posted December 04, 2017