Showing posts with label Cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cancer. Show all posts

Friday, May 27, 2022

McAfee’s positive leadership a significant legacy lost for Windham

Former Windham High School Principal and
community champion Deb McAfee passed
away from cancer on May 18. She will be
remembered as a tireless advocate for
students and a reliable volunteer for
charitable causes in Windham.
By Ed Pierce and Andrew Wing

Former Windham High School Principal Deb McAfee would often tell students that “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind” and that quote seems to best sum up her life and 38-year career as an educator before she passed away from cancer on May 18.

Devoted to her community and always encouraging the best from her students, McAfee leaves behind a legacy of service and leadership that will not be forgotten by those who knew her and generations to come.

She grew up in Portland and earned degrees from the University of Maine Farmington and the University of Southern Maine. Her first teaching job was at the Maine Youth Center, now called the Long Creek Youth Development Center. She later taught at Mahoney Middle School and became an assistant principal at Mountain Valley, Medomak Valley and Waterville High School.

In 1990, McAfee was named as the principal at Medomak Valley High and joined Windham High School as principal for the 1996-1997 school year. She served as Windham principal for 14 years, stepping down in 2010 to undergo treatment for cancer before returning in the fall of 2011 as the school’s assistant principal and held that position for seven years before retiring in 2018.

RSU 14 Superintendent Chris Howell said McAfee played a significant role in the development and construction of Windham High as principal.

“Completing a renovation/addition of a school while it is in session is a very difficult task to complete. In addition to the organizational skills that are required to keep classes going during construction, there is also a need to coordinate the safety needs of a school in the middle of a construction site,” he said. “I doubt that the public is aware of the number of hours that it took for Deb to coordinate all of the moving pieces during the construction of Windham High School.”

Of all the things Howell says he learned from McAfee, showing up and being present for student activities and games means the most to him.

“Deb was always in attendance at Windham High School games and activities. She loved bragging about the achievements of her students, and you could frequently find the latest Portland Press Herald, or The Windham Eagle article taped to her door. Beyond students, Deb had a love for taking care of the individuals that she worked with. Her appreciation might appear as a small gift in your mailbox or a kind email or note. Deb will ultimately be remembered for her generosity of time and resources to the people that she worked with and the students that she served.”

Windham High Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti remains in awe of McAfee’s ability to connect with everyone.

“Deb was present for everything, and she knew every student, parent, community member. She knew that our school was the center of the community and she wanted it to serve that purpose,” he said. When the school went through renovations, she made the auditorium a major focus of the project.”

According to Rossetti, McAfee pushed her colleagues at WHS to all be the best persons and educators possible.

“I personally learned the value of community in the work we do. Education takes a community partnership which was evidenced in Deb’s work,” he said. “I hope that we can all take a minute and reflect on how we can give back to our community in honor of Deb.”

Marge Govoni, who served with McAfee on Windham’s Human Services Advisory Committee, said Deb’s drive to help others was enormous.

“She cared for and about everyone, no matter the age, or gender,” Govoni said. “She wanted to help everyone, and she was the kindest individual I ever met. If you needed anyone to step up to help, Deb was your person. There is no one story that speaks to her commitment when she decided to help, whether it was her continued support to her students and there were many, all the work she did with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, her guidance and commitment to the Human Services Advisory Committee and lastly her work with the Age Friendly endeavor that she was helping to lead until now. I don’t think she ever had an unkind word about anyone, and our community has lost a champion that you felt proud to call your friend and she will be missed by many.”

Through the years she worked closely with hundreds of teachers, but she had history with one teacher that dates back almost 30 years. Patricia Soucy, a Spanish teacher at Windham for the past 25 years, first taught at Medomak Valley High where Deb was principal. But when McAfee got the job in Windham, she needed a Spanish teacher and offered it to Soucy.

“She was such a powerful mentor to me,” said Soucy. “Deb’s support and encouragement for the 28 years she has been my friend, boss and mentor have made me the teacher I am today.”

Kim Dubay, the current WHS Administrative Assistant to the Director of Student Services, says she’s grateful for all McAfee taught her during their many years working together.

“Deb was loyal, kind, supportive, generous and humble,” said Dubay. “She was always quick to acknowledge that every employee of Windham High School had an important role to play in order for the school to run successfully.”

WHS Social Studies teacher Susan Hapenney said McAfee was exactly what the school needed, and she made it her goal to bring the town together and build a new and improved school.

“It’s due to her tireless work that we have the beautiful building and grounds that we have today,” said Hapenney. “We will all miss her constant presence and her infectious laugh.”

Kelly Dubay, a WHS 2009 graduate, said her mother had worked with McAfee and got to know her before she attended high school.

“I feel privileged to have known her for so long, and with me growing up in the sports world, I remember she attended every sporting event that she was able to throughout the years to support all of her students,” said Dubay. “She constantly had a smile on her face, and it truly made such an impact on me to walk by her in the halls and see her smiling, no matter how my day was going.”

2017 WHS graduate Ally Stephen said her best memory of McAfee took place at a school pep rally. McAfee was going through chemotherapy at the time and then-principal Howell asked students to give her a round of applause.

"I remember seeing her so happy in that moment,” said Stephen. “She was a genuine light in that school, always greeting everyone with a smile no matter what she was going through, and she will be incredibly missed.” <

Friday, October 1, 2021

Windham High School joins Dempsey Challenge cancer initiative

Actor Patrick Dempsey, the creator of the 'Dempsey
Challenge,' hosted a Zoom meeting on Sept. 24 with 
Windham High School juniors to thank them for
raising the most money of any class for the initiative 
during homecoming week activities at the school. All
told, WHS students raised $1,715 for the program, which
assists cancer patients across the state and virtually.
By Ed Pierce

When done right, a school helps shape the character and the future of students by motivating them to show respect and to care for others. This premise was at the heart of Windham High School’s homecoming initiative in which students aimed to improve the lives of local cancer patients by raising money for the Dempsey Challenge.

Last week, the WHS freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes staged a competition to see which one could raise the most to support the annual fundraiser created by Maine native and actor Patrick Dempsey, who tragically lost his mother Amanda to cancer in 2014 and created treatment centers to help others overcome the disease.

According to Philip Rossetti, WHS Assistant Principal, the school chose to participate in the Dempsey Challenge as a homecoming activity to connect with the community.

“In the past we have done a food drive or change wars to support local food pantries. We have several staff and students that have been impacted by cancer and the Dempsey Center has been a great support to many in the RSU community,” Rossetti said. “Rod Nadeau, a counselor in the Katahdin Program, approached us about the opportunity to participate as a school in the Dempsey Challenge. Administration reached out to Pete Small, teacher and coach at WHS, who also helps coordinate homecoming activities to see if this would be a great fit for our school.”

He said that both Nadeau and Small have been active participants for several years in the Dempsey Challenge, which is traditionally held on the last weekend in September and features a separate run and a bike run for participants.

“When looking at the proposed timeline this meshed well with our homecoming events and is an organization that has and continues to support so many within the RSU,” Rossetti said.

Across the state, more than 2,000 individuals took part in the 2021 Dempsey Challenge event which raised a new record of $1.3 million to support cancer centers in Lewiston and South Portland.

That total includes $1,715 raised by Windham High students with the junior class raising $560, the sophomores $475, the freshmen $355, and the seniors $325.

For their winning efforts, members of the WHS junior class participated in surprise Zoom call with Dempsey himself on Friday, Sept. 24.

Dempsey said he was grateful Windham High students agreed to help with the challenge and said he plans on visiting the school soon and thanking the students personally for their efforts to help others. He praised the junior class for raising the most money overall.

“I certainly can’t thank you enough,” Dempsey said. “You’ve set the tone now in the school and it’s such a remarkable thing to want to help those impacted by cancer by saying we support you.”

Students in the junior class told Dempsey that their parents also got involved in the fundraising effort and that boosted them to collecting the most for the Dempsey Challenge during the week of homecoming activities at the school.

“We’re grateful you did that,” Dempsey said. “I’m just part of a very small team at the Dempsey Center and actions like this create stronger vibrations for everybody associated with what we do.”

He said that the Dempsey Center makes life better for people managing the impact of cancer with locations in Lewiston, South Portland, and through a new third virtual location called Dempsey Connects. Dempsey said all services are provided at no cost and include treatment, counseling, consultations, support groups, grief and bereavement sessions, specialized service for youth, massage, reiki and acupuncture.

“As soon as I can work it into my schedule, I’ll be at Windham High School to thank everyone,” Dempsey said. “Doing something like this is the most satisfying thing in the world and we are grateful for the help.” <  

Friday, April 30, 2021

Windham student recycles bottles, tabs to help kids with cancer

Cooper Fournelle of Windham, 10, raised $800
through a bottle drive to donate to the Maine
Children's Cancer Program and turned over
40 pounds of aluminum can tabs to the Ronald
McDonald House for them to recycle to help
fund their charity services for sick kids and
their families. COURTESY PHOTO 
By Daniel Gray


While others may reuse or recycle them, a Windham student is a great example of how recycling bottles and aluminum can tabs can help others along with helping the environment.

Cooper Fournelle, a 10-year-old student at Manchester School, has a love for hockey and helping others who need assistance. Along with his mother, Jessica Emerson-Fournelle, he’s been participating in bottle drives in Windham to donate toward children diagnosed with cancer.

The mother-son duo has been collecting bottles for the Maine Children's Cancer Program for two years. In 2019, they had raised $423 recycling bottles and last year that number increased to $635. Not only do they collect bottles, but the Fournelle's also collect can tabs to donate toward the Ronald McDonald House, another organization that aids families and medical treatments.

Jessica Emerson-Fournelle, who has a long history with community service and helping out others in need, said that she was thrilled when her son started following in her footsteps.

"Cooper has such an empathetic heart,” she said. “He stands up for kids being bullied, loves to help with projects around the house and definitely wants to see things change with people that are suffering."

In 2019, she had suggested that they collect bottles and give all the proceeds to charity in order to help other kids that were just like him that were going through tough times. They did and she said that Cooper enjoyed it so much, they have continued doing this.

Others in the community have taken a notice to Cooper's charity and pitched in to help him.

"We have several people that donate bags of cans or bottles to us on a regular basis from the community, along with friends and family,” Jessica Emerson-Fournelle said. “Others have been willing to do a bag or two. Any little bit helps.”

She said that per month, they collect about $60 in donations, but it isn't consistent. The numbers pick up some in the summer months, especially at their campsite in Steep Falls.

"We also have a seasonal campsite at Acres of Wildlife and Cooper has a sign at the end of our driveway. We usually get several bags each weekend," she said.

Where did this community awareness and desire to help others come from? In 2014 Cooper's grandmother, Donna Kullman, passed away from stage 4 breast cancer. Cooper was very close with her and this impacted him growing up. He was only 3 at the time and dealt with the loss in a new way years later.

When he was 7, Cooper asked his mom if they could do a yard sale to sell toys and give the proceeds to children with cancer.

"I felt bad about people dying from cancer." Cooper said, "People should have long and safe lives. Kids haven't lived long enough, and they are scared and it's sad. I want to put an end to that."

Ever since then, Cooper has been determined to help children through any means possible. His goal this year with his bottle drive is to raise $800 to put toward the Maine Children’s Cancer Program.


"I want to do this every year for the rest of my life and make more each year," he said.


His mother said that while the bottle drive earns money, the tabs off of cans are also important in fundraising.

"We save our tabs in old coffee cans and at the end of the year, we bring them all to the Ronald McDonald House. We are willing to pick them up from anyone," she said.

Emerson-Fournelle said that one year they had saved and turned in 40 pounds worth of can tabs, which the Ronald McDonald House recycles for a small profit that helps fund their charity services.

The Fournelle family uses Clynk's bagging and tagging system to move things along and make it easier for anyone to donate. All they need is the tag that goes towards Cooper's charity account and it's done. Though the Fournelle's still get donations of bottles without the Clynk bags, they all pitch in to count, sort, and remove the tabs off cans.

According to Emerson-Fournelle, they have recently set up a Facebook page for Cooper's charity drives called “Coopers Cans.”  Anyone can check out the page to see the progress they have made, receive updates, or make donations if they so wish. <

Friday, January 8, 2021

Community rallies to support 8-year-old Windham boy struggling with leukemia

Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8
on Christmas Eve, was officially diagnosed
with acute myeloid leukemia a few days after
Thanksgiving. A GoFundMe page has been
set up to help the family with his medical bills.
There will also be a Red Cross Blood Drive
conducted that will provide special blood
platelet donation's to meet Dominic's needs
this coming week. SUBMITTED PHOTO 

By Lorraine Glowczak

No parent or grandparent wants to learn that their child or grandchild has cancer. It is, in fact, their worst nightmare. But strength of spirit and love of community helps the Desalle-Strehlke family stay strong as they face together the leukemia diagnosis of their son and grandson, Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8 on Christmas Eve. He was officially diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) a few days after Thanksgiving.

“It all began about three weeks before Thanksgiving,” said Dominic’s grandmother, Carol Desalle. “He was experiencing a fever, fatigue, vomiting, exhaustion and sensitivity to light, so I took him to Mercy Express Care in Westbrook. They tested him for COVID and everything came back negative, except tests showed Dominic had a mild case of strep throat.”

Carol Desalle brought Dominic back home with her to nurse him back to health. Dominic considers his grandmother’s house his second home. Dominic’s father, Joshua Desalle has just completed a certification program and is currently a surgical technician. He shares custody with Dominic’s mother, Kylie Strehlke, who works full-time as a certified nursing assistant. Dominic also has a younger brother, Landon.

“Dom’s fever and the other symptoms continued despite the medication we received,” Carol Desalle said. “When Dom’s mother brought him and Landon over the day before for Thanksgiving – I had planned the day for making pies - it is our holiday tradition.  Dominic said he couldn’t do it. He kept asking to go upstairs. I thought that was odd behavior for his personality.”

By 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Dominic’s symptoms had not only increased but included the loss of coordination. He was unable to put his hands together to wash them and found it difficult to stand up straight and walk in a steady manner.

“I looked at his nail beds and they were completely drained of color. I knew I had to rush him to the emergency room. I called his mother and she met us at the ER.”

It was there that spinal and bone marrow tests were completed and the diagnosis was confirmed.

Dominic is now receiving his first round of cancer treatments. He and his family are now in a “wait and
see” mode since further treatment is determined by how Dominic’s body reacts to the medication therapy. In addition to this, Dominic faces a few hurdles that add to the emotional and physical difficulties of cancer.

“One challenge Dominic faces is that his body carries a gene that will cause a relapse,” Carol Desalle said. “Due to this fact, it is deemed he will have to have a bone marrow transplant and thus will have to find a donor.”

A bone marrow transplant is not the only thing needed as part of Dominic’s healing.

“He also needs blood platelets,” said Carol Desalle. “What surprised me the most is that platelets are not readily available because very few people donate them. Dom and another young girl that was in the hospital at the same time had to wait over 12 hours before platelets were given to them.”

There is a way the community can help and be there for Dominic and his family. One such individual is a friend of the family, Jennifer Harmon. She established a GoFundMe page immediately upon hearing the news.

“Josh's parents, Carol and Tony [Desalle], have always been people who want to help others,” Harmon said. “They opened their home to my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. My grandson Matthew was just an infant when Dom was just a year old. Soon, they became best buddies over the next several years. I felt that starting the GoFundMe page was the right thing to do.”

Harmon continued, “I know how compassionate we are, especially for our children. Josh and Kylie need to be able to focus on Dominic without the stress of covering their expenses to be with him. I don't want them ever to feel like they can't be with him while he goes through his treatments.”

As of this printing, the GoFundMe page for Dominic has raised $5,450 out of a $10,000 goal. The GoFundMe web address is

In addition to financial donations, there will be a Red Cross Blood Drive that will provide special blood
platelet donations to meet Dominic’s needs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Clarion Hotel,
1230 Congress St. in Portland. Reservations are required. To schedule an appointment, visit and use the sponsor code: Dominic.

If one wishes to see if they are a bone marrow match for Dominic, visit the Be The Match website at

In whatever way you feel called to support this 8-year-old’s way back to health, any and all assistance is appreciated. But perhaps Jennifer Harmon says it best, “Let's help the Desalle-Strehlke family while Dom kicks cancer’s butt. #DomoStrong!” <

Friday, December 20, 2019

Maine Indoor Air Quality Council working to fix radon problems in Sebago Lake region this winter

Workers install a radon mitigation system which
involves trapping radon from the basement or
crawl space and piping it outside using
a fan system.
By Lorraine Glowczak

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the number two cause of this deadly disease in smokers nationwide. According to the State of Maine Radiation Control Program, high levels of radon gas occur naturally in Maine soil and water due to the normal decay of radium in the bedrock and can move up into a house from the ground. 

Radon is colorless, odorless, tasteless and gets trapped in buildings, causing one in three Maine homes likely to have a radon problem. That number rises to one in two homes in southwestern Maine—especially the area around Sebago Lake.

Scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon.  “Although the statistics are frightening, there is good news,” says Christine Crocker, executive director of the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council (MIAQC) located in Augusta.  “There are easy solutions available to homeowners that can rectify this major health concern.” is for this reason that the MIAQC has recently reached out to AmeriCorp Organizer, Elissa Kane at St. Joseph’s College who is directing and leading area organizations (Raymond Village Library, Raymond Village Community Church, Age Friendly Raymond) in a Window Dressers event to install window inserts to improve a home’s warmth, reduce CO2 emissions and lower heating costs. This Window Dressers event helps eligible families and individuals living in the greater Sebago Lakes region to include the towns of Raymond, Windham, Standish, Westbrook and more.

The mission of Window Dressers also includes bringing volunteers together to help in their endeavors assisting those in need. MIAQC has asked to share in those volunteer efforts.

“We can be a part of the solution to help people test their homes for radon,” began Crocker. “And if the tests come back with elevated levels of this dangerous gas, we will then install a radon mitigation system – for free- for those who have been identified as financially eligible homeowners receiving the window inserts, also for free.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all homeowners test their homes for radon in air.  (Homes with private wells should also test their well water.)  The EPA further recommends fixing your home if the results of one long-term test or the average of two short-term tests show radon in air levels are at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter.

Although the costs of installing radon systems can vary depending upon many variables (type and size of home, type of foundation or basement), the average cost to install a radon air mitigation system is approximately $1,500 to $2,000. “We are expecting to test approximately 12 low-income homes in the Windham and Raymond areas this winter,” Crocker said. “Of those tested, it is likely that between four and eight homes will test at or above the EPA action level.  Radon systems can be costly for low income Mainers, and no other resources are available to protect families. That is why we are here.”

But in order to do so, funds need to be raised to help those in need. Fundraising is essential.  “Online registration is now open for the 2020 Indoor Insanity 5K event scheduled for Sunday, January 12, 2020 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham,” stated Crocker, who is a paid staff member but who volunteers and donates her time to the success of this 5K event. “One hundred percent of the funds raised by the race will be used to install radon gas treatment systems in low income homes – including those right here in Windham, Raymond and Standish. This 5K is for everyone - elite runners who are looking to be timed in preparation for summer races, slow runners, walkers and those who just simply want to have fun exercising indoors during the winter while providing a service at the same time.”

cstlouis@spurwink.orgCrocker explained that free, long-sleeve cotton t-shirts will be available for those whose registrations are received by Saturday, December 21, 2019.

She also provided details of the 5K fundraiser. “Registration and warm-ups open at 7:00 a.m.., with the first heat starting at 8 a.m. The event ends by 11 a.m. and there will be an after-race party scheduled at Sebago Brewing with free food and 5K beers ($3.10 for a draft pour).”

But there is more. For those who are professional contractors wanting to learn more about how to combat radon in the home in new residential or renovation construction, the Council is hosting a four-part comprehensive training series on practical and cost-effective strategies for construction and renovation of healthy energy efficient homes. There will be certification available for the professionals who want to have an advantage and expertise above and beyond other competing contractors.

This four-part series will be held at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish beginning on Friday, January 24, 2020. For more details or to register for this class, visit

To learn more about the window insert event collaboration or to volunteer, contact Elissa Kane at or by phone at 207-893-7783.

For more information and to register for the Indoor Insanity 5K, visit the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council’s website at and click on events.  Also, find and “like” the Indoor Insanity 5K Facebook page for race updates, photos, and more! 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Seven-year-old receives donation from Manchester School’s L.I.T.E group for medical expenses by Lorraine Glowczak

Hannah Allen
Hannah Allen, a seven-year old Naples resident, was one of the three L.I.T.E. fundraising recipients from Manchester School last month. Hannah, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on April 12, 2018 and faces two and one-half years of chemotherapy treatments, received $500 from L.I.T.E to help pay for her medical and travel expenses.

Briefly, L.I.T.E (Lead, Illuminate, Teach, Empower) is a group formed by four Manchester School students, Lauren Jordan, Isabelle Fortin, Tayla Pelletier and Eliza Hill. Their goal was to make a difference in the world and they certainly did that for Hannah and her family.

Born to Bob Allen and Jessica Fecteau-Allen, Hannah has two older brothers and a younger sister. She was born with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21 and can come with complications of its own.
Complications of Down Syndrome include heart defects, immune disorders and spinal problems to name just a few. Hannah exhibited none of these issues and was a typical healthy, happy and rambunctious seven-year-old girl. Until, that is, spring of this year.

“This past March, Hannah had a fever that kept going up and down,” began her mother, Jessica. “We also noticed she had a limp. We rushed her to an emergency quick care facility on Friday, April 6th. We were told that she had a virus and that by the end of the weekend she should be fine but to take notice if she wasn’t. By Monday, April 9th, there was no improvement, so we took her to her pediatrician.”

Those born with Down Syndrome also have an increased risk for Leukemia. Hannah’s pediatrician, aware of this risk, decided to do blood work to eliminate the possibility. “We did the blood work on Monday, April 9” stated Jessica. “We received a call on Tuesday, April 10 and was told to go to the emergency room immediately. After many long hours in the E.R., we received the official diagnosis of ATT on that day and began treatment on Thursday, April 12.”

“For the first month, it was intensive for Hannah,” continued Jessica. “They want to kill as much of the cancer as they can in that first month before they begin the additional chemotherapy plan to completely wipe the cancer out of her. Her usual happy-go-lucky self slept most of the day during that first month. However, this initial intense therapy increases the chance of remission.” Jessica happily reports that Hannah’s energy is returning to normal.

During some of her intense therapies, Hannah was put asleep. “When she woke up, she was really hungry,” Jessica laughs. “And what fills the void for her is McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Compared to chemotherapy, chicken nuggets are the best and she deserves it.” happily reports that Hannah’s energy is returning to normal. However, this high-spirited seven-year-old has a long way to go to get to the end of the Leukemia road. “We have two more years of chemotherapy,” explained Jessica. “But the odds are in our favor. After all the treatments are completed, Hannah will be in remission and cancer-free.”

To pay for the next two years of extensive chemotherapy treatments, fundraisers are under way.
Jessica’s sister, Michelle Fecteau-Chaplin is working tirelessly for her niece “We are hosting a “Hannah Festival” on Saturday, July 28 at the American Legion in Naples from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” explained Michelle. “We will have face painting, Rent-a-Princess, pie auction, silent auction, games, bounce houses and lots of carnival food.”

Cost of this fundraising event is $20 per family at the door and includes everything except for food and drink. The funds from this event will help pay for Hannah’s medical treatment and travel back and forth to the hospital for the next two years.

For those who would like to donate toward Hannah’s medical and travel expenses and are not able to attend this event, please contact Hannah’s aunt Michelle at or call at 207-595-1381.

A big thanks goes to L.I.T.E at Manchester school for their ability to actively care and make a difference.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Anthem's Heroes at Hadlock honors 4-year-old cancer survivor

Libby Rulman
As part of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s commitment to supporting the prevention and treatment of cancer and the work of the Maine Children’s Cancer Program (MCCP), 4-year-old cancer survivor Libby Rulman of Windham was honored as an Anthem Hero for the courage she displayed battling a serious illness at such a young age.

Rulman was the second of four Anthem Heroes at Hadlock to be recognized during the 2018 season. The ceremony took place prior to the June 24 Portland Sea Dogs game at Hadlock Field.

“Libby is an amazing young girl and we’re all inspired by her story of perseverance,” said Dan Corcoran, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. “We have a long tradition of supporting organizations that foster healthy communities here in Maine, and we’re especially proud of our commitment to MCCP and supporting the good work they do for kids like Libby.”

Rulman was only 26 months old when her parents took her to the doctor for what they thought was conjunctivitis. After being prescribed antibiotics and seeing no change in her condition at follow-up visits, the family was referred to an eye specialist, who immediately admitted Libby to Maine Medical Center. She was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare cancer.

After surgery and a year-long chemotherapy regimen, Libby persevered and thanks to the care and treatment she received from MCCP, today she is in remission. Libby enjoys dancing, playing tee ball and will start kindergarten next year. asked what her favorite part was in participating at the Heroes at Hadlock event, she said she loved running the bases and getting to high-five all the players while she was running! But there was more she enjoyed, “I also loved spending time with my family and friends,” Libby said with a smile.

The Anthem Heroes at Hadlock Program provides children who have battled a serious medical condition with a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Hadlock Field. Each honoree takes a celebratory home run lap around the bases of Hadlock prior to a Sea Dogs home game, while the players give the child high-fives and the crowd provides a standing ovation. The children and their families also receive a number of Sea Dogs souvenirs and other VIP privileges.

The Anthem Heroes at Hadlock Program will recognize two more courageous kids this season prior to the games on July 14 (6 p.m. start) and August 19 (1 p.m. start).

Friday, April 6, 2018

Local musicians with a reputation for helping others organize fundraiser for two of their own by Lorraine Glowczak

The Bowden sisters are now cancer free
The popular and locally adored husband and wife dance and DJ duo, Flamin Raymin and Sizzlin Suzzin’, are known for offering their services free of charge, or at discounted rates, to help raise funds for those in need or who have experienced some form of disadvantage. 
The musical team will be providing their services once again on April 15 at Dena’s restaurant from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. However, this time, the people they are providing the service for are Jessica and Amanda Bowden - the two daughters of Susan Dupuis (aka Sizzlin Suzzin’).

The Bowden sisters will be participating in this year’s Tri for a Cure on July 22 and the proceeds of the dance benefit will go toward this organization, which raises fund for cancer research. The sisters are both breast cancer survivors.

Jessica was diagnosed with stage IIb, grade III invasive ductal triple negative breast cancer on June 16, 2010 and Amanda was diagnosed with stage III, grade III invasive ductal Er/Pr positive and Her2 negative breast cancer on March 30, 2015.

Jessica had a very aggressive form of cancer that often does not respond well to chemotherapy. “I did have to go through chemotherapy however, along with radiation therapy and multiple surgeries over the years,” explained Jessica. “I was diagnosed at 32 years old, 11 days before my 33rd birthday. I know my family well and did not know that we had a family history. My sister, myself and my mother all tested positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. This puts people (not just women) at a very high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.”

Amanda’s cancer initially began at stage two. “After my mastectomy surgery there were so many
lymph nodes involved (the cancer had spread to) that they had to up my stage to three.”

To help raise funds, they have joined together as a team for this Tri for a Cure Event – their second year to participate. “Our team is called Sister Survivors and consists of myself and my sister,” explained Jessica. “We will also again be representing Mercy Hospital and Breast Care Specialists of Maine. We both received our care through Mercy Hospital and are forever grateful for their wonderful, personalized and seamless care.”

A triathlon consists of running, swimming and biking. “My sister will be doing the swimming and biking leg this year. Last year we were on a relay team with another survivor and she did the biking, my sister the swimming and myself the running. She's excited to do both this year and have the team be just her and I. She's excited that the snow is melting enough so she can get training on the bike.”

To have faced cancer gracefully is not an easy feat. Jessica explains how she got through it all. “I'm a Christian so my faith helped to carry me through in addition to the amazing support I received from my family, friends and even strangers.”

The Bowden sisters were not alone in their cancer journey. The mother of two adult children who both had cancer has her own story to tell. “My part of this story, as a mother of two daughters diagnosed with breast cancer, is that of what a mother does,” began Dupris. “I was there for support and followed their lead. I went to their chemo treatments with them. Sometimes we would laugh and joke about it other times we just sat quietly. But, the biggest part of my story is how a very dear friend taught me to give my fears and my daughters’ cancer to the Lord. My faith in God is truly what carried me through. Since the girls’ cancer ordeal, I have seen their faith in God grow immensely. I am very thankful for that.”

“The thought of cancer never really goes away, and I think that has been the driving force in my girls taking part in breast cancer fundraiser events and being very open about their experiences. I am truly so very proud of them and amazed at the strength they possess.” asked if they had any advice for others who may be facing similar circumstances, each sister offered a piece of advice. “Stay strong and keep your sense of humor,” stated Amanda. “Don't be afraid to cry or not be strong for a day. Rest and let people help, no matter how difficult that is.”
Jessica agreed with her sister regarding a sense of humor. She also offered additional advice. “Stay positive. Find someone who has been through what you are going through and ask them anything and everything. There's something so comforting about talking with someone who's been through it.”

But more importantly, Jessica was very clear on one thing. “Do self-exams and take charge of your health. I know this isn't something that young women think they need to worry about, but I was only 32, my sister was only 34 and we have met other women who were in their 20s with no family history! Cancer doesn't care, at all.” are various ways to view the journey of cancer, depending upon the outcome – each person taking from it what they can to keep hope alive. The Bowden sister’s mother may have captured it best for their circumstances. “Although, a cancer diagnosis is very scary I have to say many wonderful things have come from it.”

If you are unable to attend the fundraising event and wish to make a donation to the Bowden sisters, visit their link at