Friday, November 30, 2018

Flashback Friday: Sculpture in bronze honors a courageous patient

Flashback Friday is an installment highlighting stories from the MGH Hotline archive. This week’s flashback from the Oct. 28, 1976 edition features the dedication of a new bronze sculpture at the hospital symbolizing the courage of the human spirit. Here is the full story:

A bronze sculpture symbolizing the courage of the human spirit was dedicated October 1 at the MGH in memory of a former cancer patient who devoted her last years to helping others with the same disease.

Erected in the lobby of the Cox Center for cancer treatment and research, the 44-inch-tall statue, entitled “Triumph,” honors Bettina Ware (Mrs. John Ware, Jr.) of Dover, who died on September 17, 1974.

“Her life was a triumph. Her spirit lives on,” said Mrs. Ware’s father, Robert H. Cook of Milton, in brief remarks dedicating the sculpture. “We hope it will be a continuing inspiration to those of you who carry on the work of this magnificent temple of endeavor and hope.”

The statue was executed by Mrs. Ware’s brother, Robert H. Cook, Jr., of Rome, Italy, whose works adorn major buildings from Boston to Canberra, Australia. He has had more than 41 exhibits on three continents. His works include a 20-foot fountain figure for the Civic Center in Canberra; a statue of a violin quartet for a Frank Lloyd Wright structure in Racine, Wisconsin; and a bronze relief for a newspaper plant in Johnson City, Tennessee.

The inspiration for “Triumph” came from an unusual chalk formation on the White Cliffs of Dover, England. The sculpture starts with a massive base, a swirling round mass which grows from another rounded inner form. Moving upward gracefully, the swirls gradually narrow, gaining speed and strength, until at the top they open like a flower.

Mrs. Ware fought cancer for 11 years. While under the treatment of MGH specialists – principally Drs. Rita M. Kelley, medical oncologist, and Chiu-Chen Wang, radiation therapist – Mrs. Ware became impressed with the need to comfort others. Patients in the busy Radiation Therapy Clinic sometimes sat alone in a waiting room for lengthy periods.

At Mrs. Ware’s suggestion, the hospital’s Ladies Visiting Committee, of which she was a member, provided a more cheerful reception area and facilities for light refreshments. Mrs. Ware assembled a group of women who themselves had been patients and arranged schedules so that there would always be someone present to extend courtesies. She coordinated these schedules and worked in the clinic until shortly before she died.

Upon her death, Mrs. Ware was lauded by the Ladies Visiting Committee for having made an enormous contribution to the hospital and, in particular, to the lives of the thousands who had visited the Radiation Therapy Clinic. The volunteer service program which she had the vision to initiate continues today. 



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