Michael Martel was known throughout his community of Sturbridge, MA for his quiet kindness and pleasant disposition, his humbleness and his fun sense of humor. Although he sadly passed away after a courageous battle with colon cancer in 2019, his humble kindness continues to affect the community even today. Recently, the Cancer Center at Harrington Hospital received a $50,000 gift from Martel’s estate, donated at his request prior to his passing.
Martel worked for most of his life in facilities management at organizations in his local community, including Holland Elementary School and Old Sturbridge Village. He never had any children, but as one of seven siblings, he was surrounded by a large loving family and countless friends.
“Mike had a kindness, gentleness about him that when he smiled at you with those big beautiful brown eyes people felt that kindness so I think that’s why people loved him so much,” his sister Barbara says, noting that love extended to the staff at the Cancer Center at Harrington, where Michael received treatment for nearly 18 months.
“The people at the cancer center loved him and he loved them,” Barbara recalls.
Barbara is also an employee at Harrington Hospital. It was she and her brother Guy that convinced Michael to go to the doctor back in 2017 after he was unable to eat for a week.
“He was pretty sick, but he was one of those guys that didn’t like going to the doctor. By the time we finally convinced him to go, his colon cancer was already at stage 4. We decided together that Harrington would be the best place for him to receive treatment because it was so close to home,” Guy says.
Guy and Guy’s girlfriend Michele took turns accompanying Michael to his treatments at the Center. All three recall his bravery during that difficult time, as well as the special care he received.
“When Michael was diagnosed he never complained. He would always put two thumbs up when taking a picture as if to say ‘I got this.’ He was a fighter and he did not let cancer bring down his joyful spirit. And the staff [at the Cancer Center] was so good to him, it felt like it was his second family,” Michele says.
“But Michael understood that not everyone has the support that he did, either financially or emotionally, to go through something like that,” she recalls. “So before he passed, he said he wanted to help other people with cancer. He wanted to give back to those patients in need who are going through the same thing he went through”
Thanks to Michael’s gift, qualifying patients in need who are receiving treatment at the Cancer Center will have the opportunity to receive funds to help cover the cost of their treatments. The funds will also go to support cancer center nursing education as well as the purchase of needed equipment and community outreach to educate people about cancer awareness and to support those in the community who are currently fighting cancer through special events and additional fundraising.
© 2021 UMass Memorial Health