The Cancer Support Center of Maine | How We Began
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.
Cancer center ‘helping one person at a time’
Bangor Daily News
By Joni Averill
Posted Aug. 06, 2010, at 5:51 p.m.
Read entire article, click here.
Breast cancer survivor supports others going through same
October 2, 2015 by Charles Eichacker on Health, News| Ellsworth American
BUCKSPORT — When Barbara Vittum learned she had breast cancer almost 15 years ago, the diagnosis seemed to come out of nowhere.
Read entire article, click here