Healthy Acadia, together with community volunteers, is launching a six-month awareness campaign to honor and remember loved ones, patients, caregivers, family, and friends whose lives have been touched by cancer. The Buoy Up to Cancer campaign will kick off in early December with the unveiling of the Bridge of Hope, a buoy and light installation spanning the Jeremiah O’Brien Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Machias River at Bad Little Falls on U.S. Route 1 in Machias. Buoy Up to Cancer will culminate in a community-powered installation of the area’s first-ever Tree of Hope at the Machias public boat landing near Helen’s Restaurant, anticipated for display at the end of May 2022. 

Both installations will feature lighted displays of colorful buoys representative of the community-strong light (hope) that outshines the darkness (cancer). The Tree of Hope will also serve as a symbol of strength, hope, resilience, and community. The public is invited to view and interact with all Buoy Up To Cancer installations, free of charge. Those who would like to request a buoy dedication, and/or sponsor a buoy in honor or memory of an individual impacted by cancer, or in honor of local healthcare heroes, are welcome to contribute. 

With this year’s Buoy Up to Cancer campaign, Healthy Acadia is also recognizing our local Healthcare Heroes – those individuals who provide unwavering compassionate care and have gone above and beyond to heal and protect people experiencing cancer, their loved ones, and our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community members are invited to participate in this campaign through buoy sponsorship with all proceeds to benefit the Downeast Cancer Patient Navigation Program, a program of Healthy Acadia and the Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center.

“Cancer is known for taking lives and putting people through their worst,” said Angela Fochesato, Patient Navigator for the Downeast Cancer Patient Navigation Program, “Buoy Up To Cancer offers a space to validate and respect their struggles, to support them and honor them; to give them hope.” 

Fochesato works one-on-one with patients who are facing a cancer diagnosis, helping them to navigate the healthcare and social service systems and community resources in order to access appropriate diagnostic, treatment, support and financial services. “Washington County has the highest rates in the state of many kinds of cancer, so since cancer is in the center of our community anyway, let’s line that bridge in the center of our community with buoys of hope. Our community is stronger than cancer.” 

Fochesato noted that in the fisheries community, buoys serve as identification. For example, each lobsterman or woman paints their marker buoys in their own, unique color or color combination so they know which submerged traps are theirs. Similarly in this campaign, each lighted buoy will be painted in the color corresponding to a specific cancer type – i.e, pink, for breast cancer, etc. — of those to whom they are dedicated to express the belief that they and their communities will not only survive their experiences, but also thrive. 

To dedicate a buoy in honor or memory of an individual, or in honor of local healthcare heroes, please visit bit.ly/BuoyDedication. To make a contribution in support of the Downeast Cancer Patient Navigation Program, visit bit.ly/SupportCPN

Healthy Acadia and the Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center launched the Downeast Cancer Patient Navigation Program in 2017 as a resource for community members across the continuum of care, including through coordination of cancer prevention efforts, early detection, and treatment. These services are offered at no cost, thanks to generous support from the Maine Cancer Foundation, as well as other donations. For more information about this work, or to access patient navigation services, visit www.healthyacadia.org/ha-decpn or contact Angela Fochesato at Angela@healthyacadia.org or 207-255-3741 ext. 103.

Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that engages in a broad range of initiatives to build healthier communities and make it easier for people to lead healthy lives across Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. Learn more at www.healthyacadia.org