Cancer survivor, Jerry Jalbert, volunteering at the 2017 Tour de la Vallee
FORT KENT — When an individual is told they have cancer, the news is most certainly the beginning of catastrophic life changes for the patient. On the positive side, despite the situation, in a small town where everyone knows and cares for each other tremendous support is generated for affected individuals and their families, especially in the St. John Valley. Nevertheless, a sense of strong pride can, at times, become a barrier to accepting assistance which may ease the stressors of the difficult journey ahead.
The support available though, does not happen on its own, but comes from individuals who are caring, dedicated to their community and passionate about making a difference. Examples of such support come from events such as the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund’s Tour de la Vallee. In its twenty-eighth year, the Tour will be held on August 19th beginning at the Lions’ Pavilion at the Riverside Park in Fort Kent. The Tour is the Cancer Fund’s most popular event and helped to support forty-six families last year, to the tune of $72,416 in assistance so that family members and significant others could accompany their loved one to obtain necessary treatment sometimes only available at a facility outside the valley.
A family who is still on the journey, will be giving back again this year. Ethel Jalbert, who has been by her husband’s side through cancer diagnosis and treatment said, “Four years ago, I had an inkling of what this journey was like for those who received a diagnosis of cancer. I was more aware than most because I am a nurse. I found it overwhelming at times. Of course one of the biggest issues is always the financial aspect of cancer care. Slowly I found out about the resources available to help lessen that burden. One of those resources was the Edgar Paradis fund that has helped with some of the transportation and housing costs.” She spoke of how grateful they are for the assistance and that they plan to volunteer at one of the Tour’s rest stops in August as their way of giving back to ensure the sustainability of the resources for others.
Still, the Paradis Fund could not do it alone. Other significant events held in the St.John Valley, driven by other selfless community members, provides the additional support necessary to ease the financial burden on people who must put their lives on hold in order to deal with the tremendous challenges of cancer treatment.
Travis Guy, Forest Hill Administrator and Chairman of the Paradis Fund said, “The individuals who are behind the scenes play a major role in supporting these types of events in so many ways. We have dedicated volunteers, sponsors, event participants and individual donors who come together to make it all happen.”
Two other such efforts, Angel Snowfest and the Long Lake Fishing Derby, have also made major contributions in support of the Paradis Cancer Fund.
Cindy Daigle, Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC) Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for the Edgar J. (Guy) Paradis Cancer Fund, said, “We cannot emphasize enough the importance that these major contributors have on the lives of cancer patients and their families.” Daigle said the amount of financial support provided to families since the inception of the Fund in 1974 has surpassed the one million dollar mark. This level of support is needed to ensure cancer recovery so that patients may go on to live healthy and enriching lives. In 2018, Angel Snowfest donated over $16,000 to the Fund, bringing its total contributions to $66,000. The Long Lake Fishing Derby donated $6,000 this year, bringing its lifetime contributions to $64,500 in support of cancer care. Both events have continued to grow each year, creating an increased awareness and providing unprecedented cancer support.
Despite advances in treatment and improved survival rates, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that approximately 8,600 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Maine in 2018, necessitating continued support from the public in the support for awareness leading to improved quality of life. To learn more, to volunteer or to register for the August 19th Tour de la Vallee, go to www.paradiscancerfund.org. Donations may also be made online.
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