Aroostook County  -  The final tally is in and The County community has raised a record amount to support Aroostook Cancer Care during the 2014 the Lights of Life campaign.  The $21,760 that was donated in the year-end fundraiser represents the most successful effort in the seven years since it was launched.

TAMC

The Lights of Life program is a collaborative effort of TAMC and Clukey’s Auto Supply of Caribou, Presque Isle, and Houlton.  McGillan Inc., of Fort Fairfield, joined in the partnership this year as the project was dedicated in memory of company leader JR McGillan. Funds raised annually support treatment for patients of TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care, the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in northern Maine.

Donations to the 2014 campaign are designated to the purchase of a new linear accelerator, which provides radiation therapy to help shrink cancerous tumors.  It is the only such piece of equipment in northern Maine, and TAMC is in need of replacing an aging unit currently on-site at the A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital on Academy Street in Presque Isle.

“We are so pleased and appreciative with how the community has responded and come together to support our efforts,” said Dr. John Mullen, TAMC radiation oncologist.  “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 is relatively close to their homes for both convenience and to decrease the cost to the patient for travel and lodging expenses.  The funds raised during the most recent Lights of Life campaign will support the purchase of this vital equipment.”

Through Lights of Life, individuals purchase lights to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer or honor survivors, family and friends of survivors, caregivers and others.  The names of those honored or remembered this year were displayed at Clukey’s Auto Supply locations, at Acadia Medical Supply in Fort Fairfield, and on the TAMC website.

Nearly 240 individuals, families, and organizations donated to this year’s Lights of Life, purchasing more than 390 lights of varying colors.  Residents throughout Aroostook County participated in the successful fundraiser; and, lights honoring family members were purchased as far away as Florida, Georgia, Texas, Massachusetts, and several communities in southern Maine.

“I’m very excited about this year’s success and continue to be amazed by how this project has grown,” said Gail Clukey of Clukey’s Auto Supply.

Clukey’s, which became a lead partner with TAMC on the Holiday Season fundraiser for the first time in 2013, provides their Main Street Presque Isle location as the site for the official Lights of Life Tree.  The team at Clukey’s also contributes generously of their time, talent, and treasure to ensure the project is a success.

Joining the auto supply retailer for the 2014 campaign was the team at McGillan Inc.  Fred “JR” McGillan, Jr. lost his battle with cancer in July.  A respected and successful businessman, JR was involved in many civic organizations and always thought of others before himself.

“We were pleased to be involved this year and honored that JR was chosen to represent cancer patients throughout The County,” said Janet McGillan of McGillan Inc. “It’s important to us that the funds stay local and benefit our friends and neighbors who face cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

In addition to officially lighting the Presque Isle Lights of Life Tree, the McGillans joined with community members in honoring the memory of JR McGillan in Fort Fairfield at the annual tree lighting ceremony hosted by the Town of Fort Fairfield, the Fort Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Fairfield Housing Authority in the community gazebo on Main Street.  In honor of JR McGillan additional red lights – to match the signature color of the prominent Fort Fairfield contractor – were added on and around the gazebo in which the tree sits.

Construction work to replace an aging radiation therapy linear accelerator, improve and expand treatment areas, and create a more home-like or private surrounding to accommodate medical and family needs is currently underway at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital campus on Academy Street in Presque Isle. When completed this spring, the project will co-locate and modernize the radiation department and the existing medical oncology/hematology practice within the Aroostook Cancer Care Center.

According to Dr. Mullen, 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.

In addition to radiation therapy, nearly 250 patients a month are receiving medical oncology and hematology services through Aroostook Cancer Care.  For many, this requires multiple trips to the center each week and hours sitting in a treatment chair.  To help make this experience a little more bearable, an atrium area is being created that will provide a beautiful new environment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

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