FALMOUTH, Maine — After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in this country. There have also been more than 1,350 new cases in Maine so far in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a number of non-profits are working hard to keep momentum going despite coronavirus pandemic restrictions. That includes an organization that evolved from a Halloween party, aiming to save lives of women at risk.
Nine years ago, JoAnne Christman was hosting a Halloween party called "Witches Wear Pink," but her thoughts were on family members who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
JoAnne's sister Pat was diagnosed in the early stage with the same disease her sister Joan beat decades earlier. Her sister-in-law Suzanne Christman's breast cancer diagnosis was in stage four. She had gone undetected and when they found the tumor it had really progressed. She went through a series of chemo treatments.
Watching her loved ones battle the disease inspired JoAnne to take the annual Halloween get-together to a different level.
The following year's Witches Wear Pink event was held to raise awareness and fight breast cancer.
The cocktail fundraiser, where attendees wear a splash of pink, grew over the years and is now a non-profit dedicated to the fight against breast cancer raises money for increasing prevention, early detection, screenings, treatment, and research.
"We have donated over 90-thousand dollars to the Maine Cancer Foundation, to the Maine Medical Breast Care Center, and New England Cancer Specialists," Christman said.
Like many fundraisers during the pandemic, this year's event looks very different but the mission of fighting breast cancer remains the same. Registration is underway for the Witches Wear Pink, 5K My Way Challenge. For a ten dollar donation, participants can also nominate friends, family members or business partners on social media to complete the fundraiser with no set time limit.
JoAnne's sisters survived, but her sister-in-law Suzanne passed away after battling the disease for several years. Volunteers say it's important to honor the lives of loved ones and help others beat a preventable cancer.
For information on the Witches Wear Pink 5K My Way Challenge go here.
Information on detection, screenings, treatment and prevention from the American Cancer Society can be found here.