Thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of the women in the Tri for a Cure, the Maine Cancer Foundation was able to significantly increase program support in 2015-16, reaching an all-time best of more than $2.1 million distributed to 32 Maine- based programs.
Over its history, Tri for a Cure has raised about $8.5 million, not counting the funds raised for this year’s event.
The highlight of the past year for the foundation has been the launch of an ambitious “Challenge Cancer” initiative, seeking to cut Maine’s cancer rates 20 percent by the year 2020.
“In Maine, we face a particularly fierce battle with cancer,” says Tara Hill, executive director of the Maine Cancer Foundation. “Our incidence and mortality rates are among the highest in the nation, and have been that way for many years. Not only is cancer the leading cause of death in Maine, 1 in 4 of us will receive a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime. This year alone, an estimated 8,200 Mainers will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. To give you a sense of scale, that’s roughly equal to the entire town of Freeport.”
In support of this new initiative, MCF has earmarked significant funds to expand cancer prevention, screening and patient support efforts across the state, and continues to fund next-generation cancer research efforts.
“We were particularly pleased to fund a proposal to expand cancer tumor ‘bio banks’ at Maine Medical Center and Eastern Maine Medical Center,” Hill says. “A $400,000 grant made this past January will go a long way to expand the capacity of our hospitals to provide tumor samples to cancer researchers, locally, nationally and even internationally.”
Other efforts by the foundation focused more closely on patient care, including a $629,000 grant to provide “cancer patient navigators” at four Maine hospitals.
“We have come to recognize that cancer care is much more than a pill or a surgical procedure. Cancer is a complicated disease that requires help at all levels, and patient navigators are extraordinarily valuable to a patient and their families,” Hill says. “National studies have demonstrated that survival rates increase when a patient has the support of a knowledgeable and dedicat- ed staff member to help advise on treatment and post-treatment options.”
The foundation also plans to continue a strong emphasis on cancer prevention in Maine. “People are often shocked when I explain to them that 49 percent of all the cancer cases in Maine could have been prevented,” she says. “And a further one-third of all cancer deaths could have been stopped, if only it had been detected sooner. With this in mind, we are determined to aggressively combat tobacco use, encourage HPV vaccinations, colorectal screenings and other efforts that are proven to help prevent cancer from arising.
“We have the knowledge, right now, to make major advances in the war on cancer. With the help of fantastic supporters like the women of the Tri of a Cure, we can make a true diference in Maine. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you ‘Tri.”
-Maine Cancer Foundation