We have been presented with many challenges in 2020, but nothing could stop us from a celebration honoring our cancer survivors and fighters and raising funds for the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care (HACCC)!

Our Day of Hope unified two signature events — Cancer Survivors Day and Walk for Hope — virtually on October 3. The Day of Hope included a virtual video celebration that premiered “live” on Facebook. A strong community of supporters, fighters and survivors came together distantly to walk and raise funds for patient needs and programming at the HACCC. Activities and resources leading up to the event included educational videos from HACCC staff, a pinwheel garden honoring those impacted by cancer and the amazing teams that provide care, and a youth artwork contest for our 2021 HACCC patient calendar. Our virtual Day of Hope video celebration, educational videos and names of those honored in our pinwheel garden can be found at www.mainegeneral.org/dayofhope.

We had people walking throughout the state, as well as the country, in support of our cancer patients.

With the support of 20 wonderful sponsors and more than 400 registered walkers, we came together to raise $130,200 in support of patient needs and programming at the HACCC. Each year we are humbled by the community that shows up to show our cancer community that no one fights alone. While this year was different in so many ways, our community’s steadfast support remained unchanged. We are so grateful!

Meet Amanda

Amanda’s experience with cancer brought her down a different path than most; her journey began years before she was even born.
Her grandmother was diagnosed in 1975 at age 35 and she died a year later.

Amanda’s aunt was diagnosed at age 32.

Six months later, it was her mother Pam’s turn. Pam fought the disease valiantly for 14 years before dying in 2010 at age 50.

Two years later, at age 28, Amanda discovered a lump in her left breast. She was six months pregnant with her daughter.

The lump in her breast triggered a series of tests and consultations ultimately leading to her own cancer diagnosis and the decision to have both breasts removed.

She had surgery in Portland, reconstructive surgery and then chemotherapy for a year at the cancer center, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. All of this occurred two weeks after she gave birth to daughter Taylor, now 8.

Because of her deadly family history, Amanda decided to have advanced genetic testing and the results showed an abnormal link to a gene called Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) – and a natural connection to other forms of cancer. With this knowledge, she has become a strong proponent of genetic testing – for herself, other family members and, most importantly, Taylor.

In the meantime, Amanda’s family is cherishing each day and the blessings it brings.

Meet Monica

Before her breast cancer diagnosis in August 2019, Monica didn’t know anyone with the disease. Her diagnosis started an education she never expected.

“The news was absolutely stunning because I felt really healthy and happy about where my personal and professional life was going,” she said. “It cut me to my core.”

Six rounds of chemotherapy from September to late December 2019 were followed by surgery and five weeks of radiation therapy, which ended in April 2020. She also took two immunotherapy drugs every three weeks through September.

While she wishes cancer wasn’t part of her life narrative, Monica said the experience made her appreciate everything more.

“I started practicing the discipline of being grateful for the blessings in my life,” she said. “It was a neighbor cooking for me, another coming to my house to clean the cat box regularly or my partner doing all the shopping and cooking. There was something to be grateful for every day.”

Meet Rhonda

Rhonda’s cancer journey started in 2014 with a breast cancer diagnosis and successful treatment. Five years later, concerning symptoms brought forth the devastating news – the cancer had returned.

Rhonda started nine weeks of chemotherapy in mid-November 2019, followed by surgery in January 2020 and nine more weeks of chemo.

“I had my last treatment on May 6 and I rang the milestone bell at the cancer center! I knew my husband Greg would be there with my mom and daughter, but I was blown away when I walked out and saw that all my kids and grandkids were there,” she said.
Rhonda’s takeaway to share with others is to always look for hope.

“No matter how sick I felt or how hard things, I had hope and it was such so reassuring.”

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