11th annual Cure Breast Cancer for ME luncheon honors four

Posted Oct. 23, 2012, at 2:02 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The 11th annual Cure Breast Cancer for ME luncheon was held Oct. 3 in Portland. The event raised funds for cancer research, education and patient support for Mainers; honored individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to finding a cure for breast cancer and to providing services for those with breast cancer and their families; and honored those who have died as a result of the disease.

Meredith Strang Burgess founded the luncheon in 2002 to celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to raise money for the Women’s Cancer Fund. Burgess is a breast cancer survivor. Since its inception, not including the Oct. 3 event, the luncheon has raised more than $450,000.

The keynote speaker and winner of the 2012 Medical Care and Research Award was Dr. Neal Goodwin, director of Research and Development In Vivo Pharmacology Services from The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. Goodwin is at the forefront of a new effort to collect and house a tissue bank of cancer tumors, including samples provided by Maine women, through The Jackson Laboratory.

The Community Outreach Award was presented to Lenore Kraus, a licensed clinical social worker and a certified oncology social worker, who has pioneered local efforts to adopt comprehensive psychological care for breast cancer patients. Her achievements include implementing a patient screening process to identify oncology patients with emotional and practical need, helping patients obtain community resources, facilitating the Cancer Community Center’s Lymphoma and Leukemia Support Group, developing Mercy Hospital’s cancer survivor program, A New Leaf, and working to develop the patient resource library at Mercy Hospital’s Oncology Center.

The Lifetime Inspiration Award was given to Carmen Darkis of Bangor. Darkis was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988 and has been living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer since 1993, surviving 19 years with the condition. Despite two decades of almost continuous treatment, Darkis is a volunteer with the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, where she serves as recording secretary and engages in political advocacy at the state and national level. She has devoted her efforts to putting a face to late-stage breast cancer, advocating for more research and encouraging other women diagnosed with breast cancer, showing them that life can still be lived to the fullest.

The Meredith Burgess Spirit of Life Award will be presented to Nurse Stephanie Freeman of Scarborough. Freedman is a breast cancer survivor, as well as a survivorship navigator for the Cancer Institute at Maine Medical center. Described as a “spitfire” able to “take an ordinary day and make it an extraordinary one,” Freedman’s lengthy list of accomplishments includes facilitating a weekly survivorship class, developing a return to work task force for cancer survivors, being chosen to attend the NCI Survivorship Advocacy workshop, working with the Maine YMCA to implement the LIVESTRONG survivorship and wellness program, creating the Cancer Institute survivorship celebration week at Maine Medical Center and is a mentor to hundreds of patients through outreach talks and one-on-one consultation.

For information, visit curebreastcancerforme.org.

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