“Challenge Cancer” is the name of the ambitious initiative launched by the Maine Cancer Foundation this past year. It has a goal of cutting Maine’s cancer rates by 20 percent by 2020. This is a big challenge for Maine, a state with cancer and mortality rates that are among the highest in the nation. The grim news is that 1 in every 4 Mainers will receive a cancer diagnosis—the leading cause of death in Maine— at some point in their lifetime. Ironically, according to the Maine Cancer Foundation, 49 percent of all the cancer cases in Maine could have been prevented and one-third of all cancer deaths could have been stopped if the cancer had been detected sooner.
Education, prevention and patient care is where the Maine Cancer Foundation will spend most of the dollars raised from the Tri For A Cure triathlon, which takes place in South Portland each July. This year, the ninth for the event, the goal is to beat the $1.5 million raised in 2015. Maine Women Magazine has been been a sponsor and storyteller for the Tri since it began. We are proud and honored to shine a spotlight on this event and the work of the Maine Cancer Foundation. In this issue, we will share many stories about the Tri and its participants, but also stories about people who, like many of us, have been directly impacted by the rage that we know as cancer.
For example, Monica Wright (page 18) is in the midst of her battle with cancer and brings her experience to us in her own words. Her story is brave. She is a warrior and a woman with a terrible disease, fighting for her life. Like Monica, Katy Kelleher tells her own cancer story (page 14) from the perspective of the partner of a young man diagnosed with the disease. At 27, her world was turned upside down when her fiancé received his diagnosis.
Together they found a lifeline in nature. Cindy Fisher no longer competes in the Tri, but she is there every year as a volunteer. A mom and cancer survivor, Cindy knows that while cancer has played a large role in her life, it has not taken it over (Cindy’s story is on page 20). She is drawn to the Tri because of the great work that the Maine Cancer Foundation does and because of the Tri’s impact.
This year, as in the recent past, Cindy will be at the finish line as the participants cross over. She will be there to greet Becky MacEachen, a young woman who survived a rare form of cancer. The Tri will be Becky’s first, but she feels that the training is nothing compared to chemo, which was three days a week, every 21 days, for six months. (Read Becky’s story on page 30.)
Thanks for picking up this issue of Maine Women Magazine. Please check out our Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and, of course, our website throughout the month. We will be updating results of the Tri and more.