SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Meghan Miers of Portland never expected the turn her life would take in June of 2021. She had a husband and two young children, six and eight years old — but she had felt a lump in her breast two months earlier in April.
Her doctors originally told her not to be concerned, since her family had no history of breast cancer, and she was healthy and young — only in her early 40s. After a precautionary mammogram, a biopsy came back on June 26, indicating she had triple-negative breast cancer.
"You don’t want to burden others with the weight of a cancer diagnosis and all of the ways that your life is impacted by it," Miers said about one of the many challenges she has experienced since that diagnosis.
Miers said her cancer has had multiple recurrences, in her skin and her brain. She got surgery to remove the tumor from her brain and is now undergoing chemotherapy. Throughout this process, she has found support through the Dempsey Center for both herself and her family.
"I feel like it’s so helpful to have a space that sort of helps people walk through it together because so much of my cancer care is just me doing what I need to do – and here’s a space where we can all come together," Miers said.
The Dempsey Center has two locations in Lewiston and South Portland and also allows people to connect online at Dempsey Connects. It offers programs and services free of cost to cancer patients and their loved ones. Those offerings range from nutrition and fitness classes to one-on-one counseling, support groups, acupuncture, and massage.
"The financial burden of a cancer diagnosis, in general, is so much," Sara Williams, the corporate and foundation relations director of the Dempsey Center, said. "People want to do all of the healthy holistic things for themselves to keep them feeling good throughout treatment and then through survivorship."
On Thursday, March 9, the Dempsey Center is hosting its first-ever Dempsey Day of Giving to encourage Mainers to give to the cause, so the center can continue its work helping people impacted by cancer.
Last year, the center served more than 3,000 cancer patients, survivors, care partners, family members, and friends. They totaled more than 17,000 visits.
"It’s really about the power of philanthropy and celebrating the power of philanthropy throughout the state of Maine. We could not provide the services we provide without fundraising and without donations," Williams said.
Miers said as a cancer patient, having that kind of help in a tough time is really meaningful.
"I think one thing that’s really nice is to not have to worry about or deal with insurance or figure out who’s paying for it or what’s covered," Miers said. "There’s just a lot of extra stuff that comes with that that sometimes I think makes things less accessible."
If you would like to help out and donate to the Dempsey Day of Giving, click here.