Aroostook County – A group of Fort Fairfield Middle/High School seventh grade students recently presented a $135 check to representatives of TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care. The donation represented proceeds from a community service project.
The students, mostly 13-year-olds, hosted a movie night, featuring Despicable Me II, complete with popcorn and drinks, in the Fort Fairfield Middle/High School cafeteria on February 28. Funds raised were presented to Lori Bouchard, Aroostook Cancer Care RN and patient navigator, and Virginia Joles, TAMC philanthropy lead, who visited the school to express appreciation for their efforts.
Student advisor Sharon Kozura said, “January was community service month when the entire seventh grade spent an hour sorting food at a local food bank. In addition, my group wanted to do something different, so they organized their own project. Today, they are seeing the results of their hard work.”
Bouchard, of Aroostook Cancer Care, explained the importance of their generosity and told students about how their gift would help in efforts to manage cancer treatments with patients.
“Your generosity helps us provide comfort, compassion, and excellent care to those who have been touched by cancer. I think your fundraising efforts are fantastic,” said Bouchard. “Donations like yours are used to purchase patient care items which are beneficial to the comfort and safety of our patients, such as new treatment chairs or warm blankets. Additionally, we have recently set up a patient assistance fund that is in the final stages of being implemented, and this money will be used to assist patients with cancer-related expenses such as travel, lodging, and other costs.”
Cancer patients in rural Northern Maine are largely elderly and often travel long distances for care, advanced imaging, diagnostic procedures, and specialized surgical interventions. Some patients drive as many as 100 miles to receive treatment at TAMC in Presque Isle, the only radiation/oncology cancer center north of Bangor. Because of this, some, especially those needing daily radiation treatments, face tremendous challenges and the stresses of “you have cancer” are multiplied. Traveling for cancer can be expensive, exhausting, and complicated to organize just when patients are feeling most vulnerable.
TAMC Philanthropy Lead Virginia Joles told students, “The employees and clinical partners at TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care extend quality treatment to approximately 250 patients each year, most with multiple treatments. So, your donation is very important to many people right here, close to home. As we continue our fight against cancer, these professionals dedicate their lives to improving health. You should be proud of what you have accomplished. Not only does your project directly affect our patients, each of you has helped raise awareness of the disease. Educating people about cancer and early detection is very important, too.”
Each year 14.1 million people learn they have cancer and 8.2 million die from the disease worldwide. More than one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through education and dispelling some of the known risk factors, tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and sun exposure.