LEWISTON, Maine — For about five years, the Dempsey Center has offered free services to people with cancer and their families in its Lewiston and South Portland locations.
While the center has utilized every inch of space in its South Portland location, Marketing and Communications Director Katelynn Davis said there isn't much room to grow. In the meantime, she said their list of clients utilizing their space has doubled in the last year. The year before that, it increased by 45 percent.
"In 2020, we switched to offering our services virtually, so that opened up our ability for more people to access what we do," Davis said. "And then we started to open back up and we saw our in-person client numbers also go up."
There are a few reasons for that, Davis believes.
"More and more people are learning about the work we do here at the Dempsey Center and unfortunately, the incidences of cancer are on the rise. With Covid, we saw fewer people going to the hospital for those regular checkups, and now that things have started to open back up after the pandemic, more and more people are seeing a diagnosis that maybe it could've been caught sooner or maybe it's something that could've been prevented before it turned into something that required more treatment," Davis explained.
There's a space at Rock Row in Westbrook under construction that the Dempsey Center is hoping to move into by this time next year, which will give them a lot more room for group counseling or private counseling, to take fitness classes, or to schedule massages or acupuncture.
The 15th Dempsey Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23. The challenge raises money to keep services at the Dempsey Center free, including funding some outdoor programs and camps with kids and families of those who have cancer. To learn more about the Dempsey Center or the Dempsey Challenge, click here.