In one way or another, all our lives have been touched by a cancer diagnosis. When you live in a small community, it’s hard not to feel the affects of the disease through family, friends or acquaintances. What would you do if you found out a former customer had cancer? Would you still help?
In the situation you’re about to be witness to, this is exactly the case.
In 1997, Rumford Hospital received a sizeable donation for the establishment of the Lariviere Oncology Suite.
Motivated by his son’s experience with metastatic renal cancer as a young man in his 30’s, Al Lariviere was determined to give back to the cancer community in his son’s memory. He was well aware that people in rural Rumford had to travel more than 40 miles to seek cancer care at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
Through his almost tireless fundraising efforts, he brought oncology treatment directly to the River Valley community at Rumford Hospital. Almost single handedly, he raised the funds necessary to open the Lariviere Oncology Suite. In 2002, he mobilized his fund raising efforts to replace the outgrown space with a much-needed larger clinic.
Al Lariviere passed away in May of last year following a four-year battle with lung cancer. Consequently, he was able to gain treatment at the very center he established.
For reasons of not wanting to take away from the legacy of Al Lariviere, a gracious supporter of the suite wanted to remain anonymous. For the sake of this story, we’ll simply call him Paperboy.
Paperboy shared, “I suspect that with most of us, we can think back on people we have known who always seemed to rise above pettiness to be fair and decent with everyone. Mr. Lariviere was one of those. In many cases, we lost contact, or they passed away without them ever knowing the positives they left behind.”
Following a recent donation by Paperboy to the Lariviere Oncology Suite, hospital spokesperson Jane Bubar was stumped by the identity and tracked a rather unique story down.
“I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this,” noted Bubar. “Upon learning who the contributor was, the answer I got was, ‘Al always gave more than he took.’”
As for Paperboy, he stated, “I was never looking for personal recognition. The story is really about Mr. Lariviere, his spirit of giving and what he did for his community.”
“From September of 1962 until December 1964, I delivered what was then the Lewiston Daily Sun six days a week. I lived near the WRUM radio tower, and the Larivieres were customers near the other end of the route. They were good customers. They always paid on time, gave me a tip (8 cents a week) and were always friendly.”
“I hardly ever saw them except when collecting, as I made it by their house around 6:45 in the morning. I do remember seeing Mr. Lariviere eating dinner sometimes when I would come around to collect. In most respects, he was like a lot of my 60 or so other customers.”
“He also owned the Sunoco station at the top of Falls Hill. I used to do business there. I remember buying a pair of tires back in 1965 that he allowed me to pay $10 a week for (the total cost was probably about $50). On one occasion, I had made a payment and did not get a receipt (or lost it). The employee did not record it. When I talked to Mr. Lariviere about it, he said that he would take my word for it. That $10 was a day’s pay for me at that time. To this day, I can say that I told him the truth, but he certainly did not have to take my word for it.”
Paperboy left the area in the late 1960’s, but remained in contact with some people. He knew, or knew of people who suffered from cancer and had to depend on others to take them to Lewiston for treatments. He noted that he understood that it’s not easy to get people to volunteer their time to transport patients so far away, particularly when it’s a 90-mile round trip on roads that are not always the best and in all kinds of weather.
“When people are seriously ill,” noted Paperboy. “Requiring a trip like that can be a heavy burden. I hope the center saves some people that additional ordeal.”
Paperboy stated that he has been lucky in life, but has not forgotten occasions when he struggled. People have helped him in many ways over the years and now he had his chance to give something back.
“When I saw Mr. Lariviere’s obituary online in the paper, I did not immediately recognize the name, but I did recognize the face. I read the story about the oncology center and what led him to establish and support it. That is the interesting story and summarizes who he was. I remembered what a nice man he was. I also thought about what a hassle it must be to drive back and forth to Lewiston when one is ill. I thought it would be appropriate to make a contribution to the center.”
“Many of us talk about how government should not be involved with charity, that giving should be strictly voluntary. Then we turn around and buy some new toys and give absolutely nothing. A lot of us could do a lot more than we do to help those around us.”
Paperboy concluded, “As with any community, Rumford has always had some very nice people. Mr. Lariviere was always a nice man who stayed on the high road. Making a contribution in his name, in his memory, in memory of people like him, is something that I hope more people will do.”
“His establishment of the Center tells us all who he really was. Life has gone well for me, and I’m glad to be able to share and honor people like him.”
From July of 2009 to July of 2010, more than 2,000 treatments were received at the Lariviere Oncology Suite at Rumford Hospital.
“Al never left a mission statement per se,” noted Bubar. “He wanted people in the River Valley to have the same ease of access to infusion therapy as his son David had, treatment just a few minutes drive from his home.”
Rumford Hospital offers Dempsey Center programs and a social worker two days a week for the comfort and convenience of their patients, close to home.
Anyone wishing to make donations to the Lariviere Oncology Suite can mail their contributions to Rumford Hospital, C/O Lariviere Oncology Suite, 420 Franklin St., Rumford, Me. 04276.