Maine Breast Cancer Coalition
Winter 2017 Newsletter
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Your Vote Matters!

Please help Maine Breast Cancer Coalition win a Bangor Savings Bank “Community Matters More” grant of $5,000! It only takes a minute to cast your vote.

Voting ends on February 28. We need every vote we can get, so please vote and then, help us out by passing this link on to your friends and family!



• Click on the "Community Matters More" link.

• Click on "Next”.

• Follow the instructions to enter your name, email address, and zip code

• Click “Next”.

• Scroll down to “Southern Penobscot” on the ballot and click on Maine Breast Cancer Coalition as shown in the screenshot below.

• You may vote for up to two more organizations, but you can only vote for Maine Breast Cancer Coalition once.

• Click “Finish”.

Thank you for supporting Maine Breast Cancer Coalition!

2016 Support Service Fund Annual Summary

The Maine Breast Cancer Coalition Support Service Fund provides financial assistance for breast health or breast cancer related needs to qualified Maine residents. The Fund assists low-income, uninsured, and underinsured people, including those newly diagnosed with breast cancer, who don’t qualify for, or whose particular needs aren’t covered by other assistance programs.

Support Service Fund milestones:
• Number of years since the Fund was started: 17
• Number of applicants the first year: 50
• Number of applicants in 2016: 326
• Total amount awarded to qualified applicants in the past 17 years: more than $1,700,000
• Number of Maine people helped by the Fund since it began: 3,500+

Statistics from the 2016 Support Service Fund program:
• Number of approved applications: 321
• Counties represented: all 16 Maine counties
• Total amount awarded: $151,576
• Average grant amount: $472
• Age range of applicants: 31 to 91

Representative items and services funded in 2016:
• breast imaging (mammography and ultrasound)
• lab/pathology
• radiologist readings
• surgeon/physician fees or copays
• lymphedema compression garments (lymphedema is a side-effect of breast cancer treatment)
• prescriptions
• breast prostheses
• wigs
• temporary living expense support for people in breast cancer treatment
• travel expenses to treatments
• many other support services

To find out more about the Support Service Fund or to apply for a grant, download an easy-to-complete, printable application from our website at, or call Maine Breast Cancer Coalition at 207-945-0008 to request that an application be mailed to you. Call us if you need help completing the application.

Support Service Fund recipients wrote:
- “Most grateful for your support at a very hard time in my life.”
- “Easy process with clear application and instructions. Amazingly fast turnaround time.”
- “You assisted in so many ways. I did not have to worry about the financial issues as I went through chemo, two surgeries, and 35 radiation treatments.”

How is the Support Service Fund funded?

The 2016 Support Service Fund was supported by the Maine Breast Cancer Specialty License Plate Program; CDC Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program contract funds supported by a Cooperative Agreement from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; dedicated fundraisers by many Maine organizations and businesses, including long-term supporters Greater Bangor Women’s Ski and Snowboard Club, York Hospital Breast Cancer Survivors Group, Maine Fraternal Order of Eagles Groups, F.R. Carroll Concrete, Douglas Dynamics, and Hannaford Supermarkets; individual contributions by members and supporters of MBCC, and the dedication of our volunteers and our Support Service Fund program assistant.  


Do you want to be part of a social movement that makes a real difference? If you would like to expand your skills and make an impact as a breast cancer advocate, join us at the 2017 Advocate Leadership Summit in Washington, DC, May 20-May 23, at the Renaissance Capital View Hotel. Registration fee for this year’s Summit is $500, which entitles you to three days of outstanding programming, Summit materials, breakfast, lunches and refreshment breaks, an evening reception, and breakfast, lunch and transportation on Lobby Day. Hotel lodging is not included. On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, NBCC will host a Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Find out more about this year's summit here.


MBCC: Thankful for Years of Support from
Susan G. Komen Maine Affiliate

Susan G. Komen Maine, which has been proud to serve the women and men throughout Maine for the past 20 years, recently announced that due to economic and operational realities the local board of directors made the difficult decision to cease operations.

"Komen Maine would like to thank the many Mainers that have Raced for the Cure in Bangor (1997-2016) and in Portland (2010-2014), as well as the many volunteers, board members and employees who have supported our efforts over the years," said Cathy Dow, Board President. "We are extremely proud of the work we have been able to do together to provide breast health education and access to screening and treatment programs to uninsured and underinsured women and men in our state."

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Komen Maine has invested more than $3 million in local breast health programs across the state, and contributed more than $900,000 to Komen’s national research program.

The Maine Breast Cancer Coalition was the grateful recipient of grant funding from Komen's Maine Affiliate to administer our Support Service Fund every year from 2001 to 2014.  In total, MBCC received over $546,000 from Komen Maine which we were then able to provide to the people of Maine who needed financial assistance with breast health and breast cancer issues.  We were honored to partner with Komen Maine and thankful for their generous support of our Support Service Fund and the ongoing work of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition.


Specialty License Plate Program Benefits Support Service Fund

License Plate

Do you have your Maine Breast Cancer Specialty license plate yet? The proceeds from this specialty plate help support breast cancer education, research, and patient support here in Maine. The plates are available from BMV branch offices and most town offices. For more information go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Specialty Plate page at
The proceeds from the Maine breast cancer license plates stay right here in Maine and are split equally between three organizations: 
Maine Breast Cancer Coalition for our Support Service Fund 
Maine Cancer Foundation for their Women’s Cancer Fund
Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program for their Mammogram Fund

Join fellow advocates, cancer survivors, and caregivers from across the state as we meet with our Maine lawmakers and ask them to support legislation that will help eliminate cancer as a major health problem.

Defeating cancer is as much a matter of public policy as scientific discovery. Lawmakers play a critical role in determining how much progress we make as a country and state to defeat cancer.

Sharing your stories and your experiences with lawmakers about why these issues are important to you will make a difference. With your help, we can pass these laws in Maine and move forward in the fight against cancer.

Maine ACS CAN's Day at the Capitol is a time for those of us whose lives have been impacted by cancer to come together in Augusta from all parts of the state to share our stories and talk with our elected officials about making the fight against cancer a priority in Maine.

Together, we CAN make a difference in the fight against cancer and ensure the voices of cancer patients are heard in Augusta. Training is provided, so even if you are new to advocacy and haven't met your legislators yet, you will be supported and provided with the necessary information.

Find out more at the Facebook event page:

2016 Hot Topic:
Breast Cancer in Older Adults
by Bethany Zell, Maine Breast Cancer Coalition President
With over 40% of breast cancers being diagnosed in people age 65 or over, getting older is, indeed, the greatest risk factor for the disease. The average age of breast cancer diagnosis for women in the US is currently 62 and although the rate of breast cancer incidence has not changed significantly in the past decade, as 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day, a higher prevalence of breast cancer is looming. With an increasing prevalence in older adults, a caution against over and under treatment of senior populations as well as an increased focus on geriatric oncology were the take-aways on this sensitive topic at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December 2016.

Although the need for additional inclusion of senior populations (age 65 and up according to grant proposal standards) in clinical trials and research was evident, there were more than a dozen poster presentations highlighting research work specifically focused on older age groups.  Some of the poster studies presented at SABCS focused on the comparison of genetic abnormalities and expressions between older and younger breast cancer patients and other age-related biomarkers. Others looked at the outcomes, toxicities, benefits and risks of known therapies, pharmaceutical regimens and surgical interventions on specific breast cancer types in older populations. Most of the studies presented in the poster sessions that had a focus on older populations showed promise, but some reinforced the need for additional data, higher enrollment of breast cancer patients age ≥ 65, and longer follow-up for more clear determination of treatment risks and/or benefits.

In his talk entitled “Treatment of early stage breast cancer in older adults”, Hans Wildiers, MD, of the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium shared that chronological age alone should not be the determining factor in adjuvant (follow up) treatment or therapy decisions.  Compared to younger breast cancer patients, studies have shown that older patients receive far less treatment which has led to higher rates of breast cancer relapse and mortality.  On the opposite end of that spectrum, a growing number of older breast cancer patients die of causes completely unrelated to their cancer diagnosis demonstrating that the benefit of therapies in addition to the initial treatment decrease as people get older.  Still, many older breast cancer patients are subject to excessive treatments that are unnecessary for extending life and may even negatively impact those outcomes. 

Arti Hurria, MD, Director of the Cancer and Aging Research Program at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in California explained some easy to use assessment tools specifically designed for older aged cancer patients.  These surveys, called geriatric assessments, can be used by anyone - even the patient themselves - to determine toxicity risk of adjuvant therapies.  According to Dr. Hurria, studies show a correlation between several predictive factors and treatment related toxicity.  The geriatric assessment contains 7 categories of questions proven to be predictive of overall morbidity and mortality in older adults. By assessing patients on this wider scale, a more specific “functional age” can be determined.  The predictive categories and general questions include but are not limited to:
  • FUNCTIONAL STATUS: How well does the person perform essential daily living activities such as shopping, housekeeping, finances, walking, etc.?
  • COMORBIDITY: What other medical issues does the patient have and how will those other illnesses impact their ability to handle cancer treatments or affect their overall life expectancy?
  • COGNITION: Can the patient follow directions, take medications on schedule, and recognize their need for outside assistance?
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL STATE: Is the patient depressed or anxious?
  • SOCIAL SUPPORT: Are they caregiving for someone else?  Do they have access to care?
  • NUTRITIONAL STATUS: Do they have access to food?  Have they had unintentional weight loss?
  • POLYPHARMACY: Is the patient taking medications that might interact with cancer therapies or have potentially risky side effects?
The information gathered from these assessments is then electronically evaluated and the results can be used to guide treatment related decisions.  The assessment can also guide providers in helping maintain and even improve functional status by connecting patients with interventions designed to assist or remediate any area where an increased risk is evident. 

Although geriatric assessments are easily available (online at, Hyman Muss, MD, Geriatric Oncologist at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill, shared that the assessments are underwhelmingly utilized as many cancer treatment centers and rural oncologists still maintain a “one size fits all” perspective on cancer treatment, regardless of age.  Other concerns contributing to lack of use were the time required to complete the assessments, as well as insufficient staffing (particularly in smaller practices or rural communities) inhibiting additional time spent with each patient.  Dr. Muss suggested that wider use of the geriatric assessments might be incentivized with an additional insurance reimbursement code that doctors could utilize when they perform the assessment. Regardless of the frequency (or infrequency) of their use, the efficacy of geriatric assessment is clear and an on-going study is in progress to develop a model of evaluation and assessment specific to breast cancer.
While at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 10, 2016, Maine Breast Cancer Coalition President Bethany Zell had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Hyman Muss of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to discuss Assessment and Treatment of Breast Cancer in Older Adults. 
View the video interview here.

Share Your Health Insurance Story with the American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Coalition

As Congress considers whether or not to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it is critically important that lawmakers maintain the patient protections that are so important to cancer patients and survivors.

We can never go back to the day when cancer patients can’t get health insurance coverage because they exceeded a lifetime limit or are denied coverage just because they survived cancer. And, we must ensure they don’t experience any gap in their health insurance coverage while this issue is being debated.

The American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Coalition are BOTH collecting stories from people who have benefitted from these and other patient protections. Real stories from people impacted by cancer will be invaluable as we work to protect these key provisions.

Please share your health insurance story with both organizations!

American Cancer

National Breast Cancer Coalition: Please email your story to

Support Maine Breast Cancer Coalition by Shopping at AmazonSmile

  AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition every time you shop, at no cost to you.

How does it work?
When you shop at, you’ll find the same shopping experience as, with the added bonus that the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases.

How do I select Maine Breast Cancer Coalition to support when shopping on AmazonSmile?

I already have an Amazon account. Do I need to open a new account?
No. If you already have an account, you will use the same account on AmazonSmile.

Show your support and join us in our efforts!

Annual memberships supply critical funding for our volunteer-based non-profit organization’s general operating costs and make it possible for us to continue our important work. Annual memberships are available at various levels for both individuals and businesses. Click the JOIN US button above for more information or to register for membership.
... or please consider a donation of any amount to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition. You can make a secure donation using your credit card or PayPal account by clicking on the DONATE button above.

... or hold a fundraiser: If your community group, business, or organization would like to dedicate all or part of the proceeds from a fundraising effort to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, click the FUNDRAISE button above or download our Fundraiser Guide HERE for additional information
We would like to express our appreciation to the following individuals, groups, organizations, or businesses that made donations or conducted fundraising events to benefit MBCC in 2016:

Alison Bossie - In Honor of Mary Beth DiMarco
Atlantic Federal Credit Union - In Memory of Barbara Smith
Beverly Sperry
Breast Fest
Brewer Eagles Club
Capeway Interiors
Connie Craven - In Memory of Lucienne
Craig Freshly
Depot Street Art Center
Eagle Riders - Gray
Everett Prescott Inc. - In Memory of Mary Edwards
FR Carroll Inc.
Freedom Drive Open Golf Tournament
Gail Prozzo - In Honor of Mary Beth DiMarco
Greater Bangor Area Women's Ski & Snowboard Club
Greenwood Center Nursing Care
Hannaford Supermarkets
Hebron Academy Hockey Fundraiser
Home Depot Employee Association
Jeannine Wilson - In Memory of S. King
John and Darlene Gleba
John Leslie
Julie Archer
Karen Stairs - In Honor of Mary Beth DiMarco
Linda Lapree - In Memory of Linda
Lois' Natural Marketplace
Maine Fraternal Order of Eagles
Maine Women's Network - c/o Heal Accounting Solutions
Margaret Collmus
Martha Stewart - In Honor of Mary Beth DiMarco
Master Brent Crisci
Mary Beth DiMarco
Med Con Professionals
Meredith Burgess
Miriam Carter - In Honor of Mary Beth DiMarco
Nancy Cote
Nancy Hersey
Paula Lilley - In Honor of Mary Beth DiMarco
Plastic & Hand Surgery Association - South Portland
Ruth Ann Harrison
Sally Madore
Sushi Maine
United Martial Arts Academies
Victor & Glenda Amirault - In Memory of Carol Bosma

The Maine Breast Cancer Coalition's Mission

The Maine Breast Cancer Coalition is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the health of Maine people through:

  • Service through financial support for underserved people with breast health or breast cancer needs. Click here for information or to download a Support Service Fund Application.
  • Advocacy for breast cancer research and legislation
  • Education to promote knowledge about breast cancer and quality care. Click here for breast cancer or breast health resources.
Copyright © 2017 Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, All rights reserved.

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