SALEM — Earlier this month, the Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center in Danvers held a dedication ceremony for, of all things, a bell.
The little bell is inscribed “From the Friends of Maureen Clark” in honor of a Salem wife, mother and businesswoman who went through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation at MGH in Boston.
Clark donated the bell so cancer patients on the North Shore could have the same experience she had last year when she went for radiation treatment at Mass General in Boston.
The first time Clark saw the bell in Boston, it was hanging on a wall near a computer. She assumed it was there in case someone needed help checking in. On her first visit, she learned differently.
“The bell rang and people started clapping,” she said.
The other patients in the waiting room sat motionless for a few seconds, before breaking into smiles and applause.
She asked about the bell and was told it was rung three times when a cancer patient finished a round of radiation.
“To me, it was very emotional,” she said. “It just kind of symbolized that you had completed something. It didn’t mean people were better. It just meant they had (done) their radiation.”
That’s about the time she fell in love with the bell.
Clark, the owner of Marketplace Quilts on Canal Street, immediately thought about the bell when friends asked if they could hold a fundraiser for her. She was reluctant to accept, but finally agreed as long as part of the proceeds went to purchase a similar captain’s bell for the North Shore Cancer Center.
Last November, at the Moose, several hundred friends gathered for “Bra-Vo Mo,” a celebration of a brave and caring woman who had been through a lot. In keeping with Clark’s sense of humor, everybody wore a wildly decorated bra outside their clothing — even the guys.