cancer support center of maine

The People Behind the Center

Our Beginnings - In 2001, Barbara Vittum was diagnosed with breast cancer.  During her year-long battle with surgeries, ICU and isolation stays at EMMC, chemotherapy and lots of complications, Barb was totally supported by friends, family, customers of her wine shop and the community.  Everything from shoveling snow in the winter, to lawn care in the summer, housework, hundreds of trips to health care appointments, cooking, and paying lots of bills was given by an amazing group of people. One day her surgeon called and talked to a volunteer who was working in the wine shop and said, “You know, if everyone had the support Barb does, they would get well.” The seed was planted. Then, after an especially difficult hospital stay, Barb made an agreement with God that if she lived through this very difficult journey, she would go to college to learn how to be an effective advocate and to help others going through their cancer journeys.

After Barb graduated from UMaine, a group of dedicated people got together and the Cancer Support Center of Maine was born. Meetings were held, brainstorming sessions took place, hoops were jumped through to achieve IRS nonprofit status, and in Feb 2009, the Center became a 501( c )(3) org.

All the Board of Directors, and most of the Center’s volunteers have either had cancer themselves, or have cared for a loved one who has had cancer. We understand the needs of those facing this devastating disease and are committed to the health of our community.

All the services offered by the Center are FREE of charge and are as varied as the cancer patients and their loved ones' requests. Some examples are: rides to appointments, note taking during doctor’s visits, finding programs for gas or food, connecting those in need with a variety of social services, and most importantly, emotional support.

The Cancer Support Center of Maine, received a generous start up grant from the late Mr. George Marshall (pictured right with Barbara Vittum) of Orland, Maine in memory of his late wife, Katherine.

In response to learning that the State of Maine has the highest cancer rates in the nation, the Center decided to create an educational program to better understand how cancer happens and how to reduce the risk of cancer. They have presented to middle school classes, health fairs and health forums, University of Maine classes, business and social organizations—and to individuals eager to learn about this complex and very confounding disease.

The two major goals of the Cancer Support Center are to directly help cancer patients and their loved ones, and to offer education on how to reduce cancer risk. The Center’s funding is derived from the generosity of our community members and through various ongoing fundraising events. Like the community they serve, the Center believes in local people helping local people.

Future goals are to create more direct funds for cancer patients in dire financial situations and to create a gas card program. The need for financial help is huge. Cancer is not only difficult physically, and emotionally but can be devastating financially, even for those who do have health insurance.

Meet Our Board

Barbara A. Vittum, Executive Director
An Ellsworth native, Barbara attended and graduated in 1975 from the Ellsworth public school system. Having extensive business experience for over three decades, she owned and operated the Hancock Grocery in Hancock, Maine from 1977 to 1986; and the Vineyard, in Bucksport, Maine from 1987 to 2008. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Graduating suma cum laude from The University of Maine in 2007 with a BA in psychology, she received many awards, honors and scholarships, including The Outstanding Achievement Award for Lifelong Learning. With her sights on pursuing a Masters degree, her area of interest is Public Health, Disabilities and Social Policy.

Since 1999 to present, she has been on the Board of Directors of Bucksport Regional Health Center, a health care facility offering primary care to area residence regardless of their ability to pay, serving on numerous committees. She is a member of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition and Encore breast cancer survivor support group; did her two-year student internship at Caring Connections, a women’s health-care cooperative between Eastern Maine Medical Center and the Bangor Y; was a Peer Advisor to first year students for three years for the University of Maine College Success Program; and for years has participated in many cancer-related fundraising activities: Komen Race for the Cure, Avon Marathon for a Cure, American Cancer Society walks and other AMC fundraising; as well as participating in various university and community food drives and events.

Compassionately providing help to many friends and family members through their cancer journeys, as well as being a cancer survivor herself, Barbara is a strong advocate and active supporter of those in the community in their times of need.

Martha Ohrenberger, President - Board of Directors
Martha lives and works in Penobscot, Maine. Graduating from the University of Maine with a degree in education in 1976, she worked with children with severe disabilities and emotionally challenged adolescences. Martha also graduated from Eastern Maine Vocational College in Nursing in 1984. She is self employed as a full time health education coordinator and massage therapist, graduating from the McKinnon Institute in Oakland, California in 1993; and in 2007, Martha received her certification in SHEN Therapy, which is a physical bodywork modality for somatic emotional release.

Martha feels passionately about personal empowerment and works to assist others in finding the true nature of their own body wisdom and health. She has a background as a nurse in medical/surgical and cardiac nursing, in addition to elder-care in a nursing home setting. Presently, she works to educate others on nutrition as it affects all systems of the body and her interests are in both direct care giving and patient risk reduction as a result of cancer. Personally impacted by cancer, Martha has done hands-on nursing care for both friends and community members who have undergone surgery and treatment for various cancer diagnoses. She serves as a strong resource to numerous families during their times of health crisis, as both a care giver and family support person.

Theresa Soucy, Vice President - Board of Directors
Theresa graduated from the Academy of St. Joseph’s in 1967 and attended University of Maine at Presque Isle. She has owned and operated Frank’s Bake Shop in Bangor, Maine for the last 30 years, in addition to Aqua Pure Water Store from 2005 to present. Theresa is also a certified Body Talk practioner, synchronizing and balancing the body/mind complexes to the innate wisdom of self healing; as well as a certified Rain-Drop therapist, using non-invasive message and essential oils applications, helping to strengthen the immune system. She has long been active in community support through her business donating to: a wide variety of local agencies, including donation of food to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter; has given time, food, and resources to a number of local fund raising events; and is active in community enhancement activities.

Through her many years in business, Theresa has employed interns from Community Culinary Arts Schools to fulfill their curriculum development, and has employed numerous individuals with disabilities. She is a volunteer at the Bangor Senior Citizen’s Organization, and been a guest speaker at Husson College, in Bangor Maine, to promote family businesses in Maine. Theresa has long been an ally for those in need, and generously given to dozens of individuals and area non-profits throughout her decades of business in Bangor. She has also supported and done hands on care for many friends and family who have had cancer.

Jane Atherton Leopold, Secretary - Board of Directors
Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1944, Jane grew up near Doylestown and attended Northwestern University as an English major, in Evanston, IL. Jane worked for 20 years as an executive assistant in New York City; and after moving to Maine, worked as a Human Resources Manager and Assistant to the CEO of Cuso Mortgage Co. in Bangor; and later became an acquisitions editor for Thorndike Press in Maine before retiring. As a business entrepreneur for several years, Jane was an antiques dealer, with an interest in historic preservation.

Giving her excellent organizational skills to her community, she currently serves as a Board of Directors Officer in charge of customer relations and special problems for the Sandy Point Water Company that provides safe, clean drinking water to area residents. Long an active participant in the political process, Jane is an unwavering voice for the underserved. She is a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma since April, 2004. Her mother, as well as friends and other family members, have passed away from and survived cancer, and Jane remains dedicated to assisting others as they face their cancer diagnosis.

Patricia Couture, Treasurer - Board of Directors

Elaine Horne - Board Member

Linda Morneault - Board Member
Born in Malden Massachusetts, Linda received her Bachelor of Science degree in teaching, in 1982 at Bridgewater State College and moved to Maine to become Director of Health, Physical Education and Recreation for the YWCA in Bangor. Linda is a founding member of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition and was it’s President for three years; has been a group facilitator for Metastatic Cancer Support groups; Chair for Komen Race For The Cure; Recipient of the Maine Leadership Award for Breast Health; and former member of Maine Bureau of Health, Public Education & Access Committee & Cancer Prevention & Control Advisory Committee.

After working for the Y and Eastern Maine Medical Center for many years, Linda established a successful consulting business, Morneault Associates, Inc. in South Portland, Maine which provides implementation, training and project management services for electronic medical records for various health care organizations throughout New England. Having both personally cared for and professionally been involved with those affected by cancer, Linda has been a fervent voice and remains a strong advocate for those battling cancer.

Jay Palmer - Board Member

Dr. Linda Yelland - Board Member