Aroostook County  -  Representatives from TAMC, the City of Presque Isle and the local patient support group C-A-N-C-E-R (Caring Area Neighbors for Cancer Education and Recovery) will break ground, Saturday, October 11, on a new space at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital campus designed to improve and expand treatment at the region’s most comprehensive cancer center.

The leaders will gather outside of TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care (East Wing Building), alongside participants in this weekend’s inaugural Color Me Pink 5K Run/Walk, to officially launch the effort to install a new, state-of-the-art linear accelerator, which provides radiation therapy used to shrink tumors for cancer patients throughout the region.  The brief ceremony and ground breaking will take place at 10:30 a.m., just before run/walk participants head out at 11:00 a.m.

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TAMC has the only linear accelerator in northern Maine, without which County patients in need of radiation therapy would be required to travel to Bangor.  However, the current machine is nearing the end of its lifespan and needs to be replaced.

Installing the new radiation therapy linear accelerator is part of a greater effort to bring all of TAMC’s cancer care services together in one convenient location for patients and create a more home-like or private surrounding to accommodate medical and family needs. TAMC is embarking on a project to co-locate and modernize the radiation department and the existing medical oncology/hematology practice within the Aroostook Cancer Care Center.

The Dr. Christopher Seitz Radiation Oncology Suite which will house this new linear accelerator will be located adjacent to Aroostook Cancer Care, rather than the ground floor of the hospital as it currently is.  The placement of the new unit in this location also means that there will be no disruption to patient treatments when the hospital is ready to transition from the old to the new.  Patients can be treated on the current linear accelerator right up until the new machine is ready to be put into use, which is anticipated to happen by this coming spring.

“Radiation Therapy is usually delivered five days per week anywhere from two to eight weeks depending upon the specific type and stage of the cancer.  It is therefore important, especially for patients, that the radiation treatment facility be relatively close to their homes for both convenience and to decrease the cost to the patient for travel and lodging expenses,” said Dr. John Mullen, TAMC radiation oncologist.  “The new facility to be constructed will be an up-to-date center where treatments will be faster and the associated side effects will be decreased. With the addition of new and better treatments, more County patients than ever before will be able to stay local for all of their cancer treatment.”

The groundbreaking ceremony location will mark the spot for the vault that will be home to the new linear accelerator.  The new addition will be placed on the southerly side of TAMC’s East Annex building, where the new, comprehensive Aroostook Cancer Care Center will be located.   The vault that will house the new high tech piece of equipment will consist of concrete walls and a concrete roof up to eight feet thick which prevents radiation from escaping.

The new linear accelerator technology will impact many in The County, since it is estimated that radiation therapy will be used in 60-70 percent of cancer patients at some time during the course of their treatment.

The first-ever Color Me Pink 5K Run/Walk that will follow the groundbreaking is a collaborative effort of C-A-N-C-E-R, TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care and CompetitorME.  All proceeds from the charity event will be equally divided between    C-A-N-C-E-R to help fund their patient support efforts throughout central Aroostook, and Aroostook Cancer Care to support the purchase of the new radiation therapy equipment.

The 5K run/walk will start and finish at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital on Academy Street in Presque Isle.  Participants will make their way down Academy Street, onto Main Street up to Clukey’s Auto Supply, then onto Riverside Drive to Chapman Street, and from there up to Main Street to Cedar Street and back up the hospital.  Once at the finish, participants will be treated to a barbecue lunch.

Registration for the 5K Run/Walk is $20 per adult and $10 per child under 12, with a maximum family rate of $80.  Registration is now open on-line and is accessible at www.tamc.org.  Registration will also be available on event day at TAMC.

In addition to the 5K Run/Walk, the event will also feature a kid’s one-mile fun run that will take place at 10:00 a.m.  The fun run is open to all kids 12 and under.  The activity is the third in a series of seven consecutive Discovery Days children’s Saturday morning sessions co-presented by TAMC, ACAP, Healthy Aroostook, and the Presque Isle Historical Society.

The Color Me Pink 5K Run/Walk activity on Saturday, October 11 is as follows:

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.             Registration at TAMC – Entrance of Millennium Medical Office Building (Pre-registrants pick up bib and shirt)

10:00 a.m.                               Color Me Pink Kid’s 1-mile Fun Run begins

(Open to Discovery Days program participants and all children under 12)

10:30 a.m.                               Groundbreaking for TAMC’s new Radiation Therapy Linear Accelerator

11:00 a.m.                               Color Me Pink 5K Run/Walk begins at TAMC and proceeds through downtown Presque Isle to end at TAMC

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.          Lunch for participants at TAMC