MAINE, Maine — A trip from Machias to Brewer is about an-hour-and-a-half drive, and will cover about 100 miles. The founder of the Christine B. Foundation, Matt Dexter, decided to run that route, all 100 miles. He did this to symbolize the extremely long distance that many cancer patients have to make daily, to get cancer treatment at the closest facility in eastern Maine, the Northern Light Cancer Care Facility in Brewer.
This past Saturday, Dexter and a group of supporters kicked off the 100-mile run at 7 a.m. On Sunday, 30 hours later, the run wrapped up on the Brewer Riverwalk. Sunday also marks National Cancer Survivors Day.
"The whole purpose of the event was to highlight not only National Cancer Survivors Day, but also have an opportunity to really highlight the disparities that so many in rural Maine face," said Dexter.
Dexter is an avid runner and has been training for more than a year for this run.
"If you are receiving radiation you are here every day for five days a week, it could be six weeks, it could be eight weeks, it could be 12 weeks every day," said Rebecca Beckwith, Oncology Social Worker at Northern Light Cancer Care in Brewer.
"Washington County, unfortunately, is a county in the state of Maine that has the highest incidents, and highest mortality for cancer, not only is it the leading cause of death in the state, but Machias particularly faces cancer every day," added Dexter.
Dexter is fundraising to support the foundation's food assistance program, which provides grocery bags filled with food to cancer patients and its caregivers at no cost. A permanent stand with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, bread, and many other essentials stands right inside the Cancer Care in Brewer. Dexter also offers drop-off food services.
"It's very difficult to get dressed, go to the grocery store, you don't feel well, if they are here for an appointment, or here for treatment, they can get several bags of groceries!" said Beckwith.
"We've supported over 13,000 Mainers with the equivalent of 90,000 meals," said Dexter.
Dexter says it's important for people to learn and understand what many rural Mainers face when diagnosed with cancer.
"This is really truly nothing compared to the journeys, and the sacrifice and the courage that thousands of Mainers who overcame cancer have faced," said Dexter.
Dexter's mother Christine, died from stomach cancer when he was just 14-years-old.
"That experience as a child and working through that as a family, was incredibly challenging," said Dexter.