Maine Cancer Foundation was established in 1976, the result of a small group of concerned citizens who lost loved ones to cancer and felt compelled to make a difference. When no organization was found with a mandate to dedicate 100% of its funds to the people of Maine, Maine Cancer Foundation was created.
1980s - The Early Years
In the first decade, the Foundation received memorial gifts and other small donations. The Board of Directors met periodically to decide how to use the funds it had raised. Maine Cancer Foundation was the primary underwriter of "Discovery Weekend." This weekend retreat was created to fill a gap in the unmet needs of patients for emotional and spiritual support and continued for 27 years. The weekend retreats focused on integrating medicine, spirituality, and communication skills in the lives of people with cancer. Led by Dr. Jake Hannemann, a radiation oncologist, and his wife Jude, a dedicated volunteer staff of physicians, psychologists and social workers facilitated the weekend experience. Over the years, thousands of cancer patients, along with their husband/wife or other loved one, have benefited.
All cancers are diseases of unregulated genes. During the 1980's, science and the world of molecular biology underwent rapid development. Oncologists on the board of MCF were anxious that cancer patients in Maine would benefit from whatever scientific applications this science had to offer and made a commitment to play an active role in the professional education of physicians, nurses and others in the application of DNA based science.
1990s – Opportunity
In the early 1990's Dr. Ronald Carroll, a medical oncologist at Maine Center for Cancer Medicine, who had been on the Foundation board since its inception, became its next President succeeding Roger Castonguay. Dr. Carroll felt the Foundation had a major role to play in the fight against cancer in the state. As a result of a successful proposal to the Davis Foundation, the first full time director was hired in 1992 and a small office was opened in Portland.
As assets grew, the Foundation created and presented a twelve-hour symposium on the fundamentals of DNA science as it applied to cancer. MCF presented symposia at the University of Maine School of Law in an effort to increase awareness among lawyers and lawmakers of confidentiality issues as they relate to genetic information, to patient care, the law, and the potential for genetic based discrimination against patients. The same fundamental information was also presented to the public through Osher Life Long Learning at the University of Southern Maine.
During the 1990s the Foundation also began increasingly ambitious fundraising events. A Road Race was held for three years, 1995-98, followed by a Golf Tournament 1999- 2009. MCF joined the Community Health Charities of Maine to access workplace giving programs. Grant proposals were written for specific needs. Several significant bequests were received continuing the organizations growth.
As 2000 began Maine Cancer Foundation saw its level of fundraising increase. This enabled the Foundation to fund a greater number of grants throughout the state. Because research has always been at the heart of MCF’s mission, it was determined to adjust the proportion of funds expended to research from “more than 50%” to 80% helping provide both a research cluster and economic development here in Maine.
20% of available income remains dedicated to advancing professional and public education and patient support programs. Requests for proposals are available on-line and issued through the Maine Cancer Consortium and the Healthy Maine Partnership programs, in hopes of reaching a good cross section of projects.
Maine Cancer Foundation partnered with Susan G. Komen Maine to offer a training program to health care program managers, “Using What Works: Adapting Evidence Based Programs to Fit Your Needs.” The program is a project of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service and was well received.
2010 and beyond
After a thorough analysis of its special events, the Foundation decided to focus its efforts on four unique events, Tri for a Cure, Cure Breast Cancer for ME Luncheon, Pink Tulip Project and Mary’s Walk. These “Signature Events” are the core of MCF revenue generation attracting thousands of participants and even more donors.
Attention will continue to be paid to the Annual Appeal, Major Gifts and Planned Giving. The “Society of Hope” was launched to honor donors who name Maine Cancer Foundation in their will, life insurance or retirement plan. Long-term, loyal support is essential to the Foundation’s continued success.
With robust fundraising, MCF’s ability to fund research grant will increase. In 2010 eight grants were awarded vs. five the previous year. A large percentage of outcomes are peer-reviewed and published. In some cases interest from national funding sources insures continuation.
Education and Patient Support grants are meeting the needs of patients and their families across the state. From a cancer conference in Machias, to transportation assistance in Bridgton, nurse education and hospice care, Maine Cancer Foundation is here to make a difference.