The donor: Judy Martin
The gift: Creating the "The Bell" Fund
The reason: To provide "comfort kits" for cancer patients
When Judy Martin was undergoing chemotherapy at Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital a few years ago, she couldn't understand why no one celebrated the end of their treatment.
"I used to sit in chemotherapy and watch people walk out of the room and I thought 'Man, nobody celebrates the end,'" Ms. Martin, 60, recalled from her home in Montreal. She heard that Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital had a bell patients rang when they finished treatment and she decided to buy one for the Royal Victoria, which is now part of the McGill University Health Centre. She found an old ship's bell and inscribed it with the words lucky, grateful and hopeful. It was hung outside the chemotherapy unit in 2013, and Ms. Martin became the first person to ring it when she finished her chemo for breast cancer on Sept. 4, 2013.
Ms. Martin went on to launch the "The Bell" Fund, covering the cost of "comfort kits" for patients in chemotherapy, which can take around four hours a session. The kit includes a blanket, magazine, candy, notepad and a water bottle and it's based on a bag Ms. Martin once received from her sister. So far, Ms. Martin and her team of volunteers have raised $1-million and provided kits to 4,500 patients. The kits are free, but each one costs about $30 to assemble and Ms. Martin is hoping to raise another $2-million.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be doing a project like this," she said. "When I walk into the cancer centre and I see people carrying their blue bag, I know that this has been a good idea."