Aroostook County –  U.S. Senator Angus King will share his personal cancer survivorship story and speak about the importance of affordable health insurance and funding for ongoing cancer research at the County Cancer Conference on Saturday, May 9 in Presque Isle. 

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King will deliver the keynote address at the event co-sponsored by TAMC and C-A-N-C-E-R (Caring Area Neighbors for Cancer Education and Recovery) in the conference center at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital.  The conference, which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., is open to community members at no charge and includes lunch.

A survivor of a serious and aggressive form of skin cancer, Senator King is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, milestone health care legislation that helps to provide high-quality, affordable, private health insurance to millions of Americans, many of whom had never had health insurance before or who had been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. To this day, Senator King credits health insurance as having saved his life, and in addition to supporting the Affordable Care Act, he continues be an ardent proponent of robust funding for continued cancer research.

“Forty years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of malignant melanoma. Thankfully, my doctors caught it early, and with treatment and the love and support of my family and friends, I am still here today,” Senator King said. “But the fact is, there are millions of people across the country, including thousands here in Maine, who haven’t been as fortunate as me. And today there are millions more who continue to bravely battle this terrible disease. Chances are that we have all been affected by cancer in some form or another, whether it’s our own personal experience or that of a relative or friend. Indeed, it’s from those struggles and those stories – stories of faith, of hope, of unyielding determination and optimism in the face of even the most daunting odds – that we draw strength and that we use to push on in the steady march to find a cure to this disease. And as we gather for the County Cancer Conference, we will remember those who we have lost and we will stand beside those who continue to fight today because it is with each other that we can and will defeat cancer.”

In addition to the speech by Senator King, the conference will feature presentations by area cancer care providers, local resource groups, and area survivors and caregivers who will share their touching and inspiring stories. The event will conclude with preview tours of the new Aroostook Cancer Care Center at TAMC, which is undergoing a significant renovation to improve and expand treatment at the region’s most comprehensive cancer center.

Since last October, construction has been underway to bring all of TAMC’s cancer care services together in one convenient location for patients and create a more home-like or private surrounding to accommodate medical and family needs. The project to co-locate and modernize the radiation department and the existing medical oncology/hematology practice within the Aroostook Cancer Care Center includes the addition of a new chemotherapy infusion atrium and a concrete vault to house a new, state-of-the-art linear accelerator, which provides radiation therapy used to shrink tumors for cancer patients throughout the region.  TAMC is the only healthcare provider north of Bangor with such technology.

Although work on the center is not yet complete, conference participants will get a preview of what the new facility will look like during an ice cream social at the end of the conference.  A ribbon-cutting and grand opening for the new Aroostook Cancer Care are set for October.

“We are looking forward to showing conference attendees what the new center will look like, and more importantly are anxious to occupy the new space and provide County cancer patients with the highest level of care ever offered in northern Maine,” said Brenda Baker, manager of Aroostook Cancer Care.  “We are so pleased to partner with C-A-N-C-E-R to host this conference.  It will provide an opportunity for those impacted by cancer in our region to network and hear about the latest treatment options locally, learn what resources are available, and be inspired by the stories of some courageous individuals.”

One of the resources attendees will hear about is the non-profit C-A-N-C-E-R, a central Aroostook County non-profit organization that offers programs to support individuals and families dealing with cancer.  These include a fund to provide financial assistance to offset the related costs of transportation for appointments and treatments, as well other expenses for individuals who are presented with financial hardship as they fight the disease.

Other services offered by C-A-N-C-E-R include their signature Bread of Life Visitation program which involves the delivery of home-baked bread by volunteers to the homes of cancer patients monthly; the pharmacy program which provides free of charge personal care products not available through other services; and tote bags filled with items selected specifically with the patient in mind.

“It is important that individuals facing a cancer diagnosis and their loved ones know what resources are available to them.  The Aroostook County community is a very supportive and loving one.  We want to make certain that cancer patients understand they are not alone,” said Craig Green, a volunteer board member with C-A-N-C-E-R and member of the conference organizing committee.  “Senator King will underscore the importance of having such a support network in his speech.  To hear that message from a United States Senator will certainly bring this home for those who attend.”

Angus S. King, Jr. was sworn in as Maine’s first Independent United States Senator on January 3, 2013. A steadfast believer in the need for greater bipartisan dialogue and relationship-building among legislators, Senator King joins a long line of independent leaders in the Senate from the State of Maine.

He began his career as a staff attorney for Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Skowhegan. In 1972, he served as chief counsel to U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Narcotics in the office of former Maine Senator William Hathaway.

In 1975, he returned to Maine to practice with Smith, Loyd and King in Brunswick, and in 1983, he was appointed Vice President of Swift River/Hafslund Company, an alternative energy development company working on hydro and biomass projects in Maine and New England. Six years later, he founded Northeast Energy Management, Inc., a developer of large-scale energy conservation initiatives at commercial and industrial facilities in Maine.

In 1994, Senator King was elected Maine's 72nd Governor. During his two terms in the Blaine House, he focused on economic development and job creation, and also achieved significant reforms in education, mental health services, land conservation, environmental protection, and the delivery of state services. He was re-elected in 1998 by one of the largest margins in Maine’s history.

Senator King was born in Alexandria, VA in 1944. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1966 and from University of Virginia Law School in 1969. Senator King is married to Mary Herman and has four sons, Angus III, Duncan, James, and Ben, one daughter, Molly, and six grandchildren. He lives in Brunswick.

Registration in advance is required for the County Cancer Conference.  There is no cost for participants to attend.  For more information, including the day’s program, or to register go on-line to www.countycancerconference.org or call (207) 768-4044.

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