Cancer Conference helps bring hope to rural Maine communities

Published: Nov. 1, 2018 at 6:13 PM EDT
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A cancer diagnosis changes many things in a person's life including the lives of their families and caregivers.

But the support of the cancer community can help ease the stresses.

That's why the Beth C. Wright Cancer Center puts on the Downeast Living with Cancer Conference in Bar Harbor.

Lynne Assaf, Conference Planning Committee says, "Getting cancer and going through treatment, you can feel really alone. It's a chance for people to really talk about their human experience, what they went through, and a way to share our humanness. It makes people feel less alone."

This is the 12th year the conference has been held, and those involved say it's much needed in a rural area.

Assaf says, "Transportation is a huge issue. They need support, they need to network, to see providers, to see vendors, to see speakers. There's no other opportunity like this within miles."

This conference resonates with many people. From caregivers, to providers, survivors, to those still living with cancer, people like Donna Wiegle.

Donna Wiegle, Cancer Patient says, "I was diagnosed in April of 2016 with stage three-b ovarian cancer. I have poor prognosis, I have a five year prognosis, and I'm about halfway into that now. So, it's scary no matter how you look at it."

But Wiegle says this conference helps her to not feel as scared.

Wiegle says, "You learn so much when you come here, and sometimes you think you're in the journey all by yourself, and you are definitely not in the journey all by yourself."

Assaf says, "You've got a lot of appointments, you're very busy, and you're just trying to get through things, and so here, they can come and have a day where they are just relaxing and getting information and laughing a little, very important."

And Wiegle says there's no shortage of a very important four letter word....Hope.

Wiegle says, "You take away a lot of stories and hope and people's courage from what they're dealing with as well, and it kind of sustains you to be able to continue on your own journey."