NORWAY — The Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine has moved to a new location on the Stephens Memorial Hospital campus, at 59 Winter Street in Norway. An upgrade in space, its new site will allow the nonprofit to expand its services in western Maine.

The center celebrated last Wednesday with an open house.

“Before we were at 199 Main Street in the barn,” said Sue Craib, who co-founded the center, volunteers there and serves as secretary on its board of directors. “We had a single room in that building. We feel like we’ve moved from a one-room school house into a whole house. Here, it’s more like coming into someone’s living room, it’s much more relaxing.”

Judy Stone, president of the center’s board of directors, gave tours of the new facility during the open house.

“The exercise room, which we call the Healing Room, we can use for almost any activity,” Stone said. “We have borrowed a smart television and we’re looking for our own, so we can host educational sessions here.”

Craib and co-founders Barbara Deschenes and David Wilson were honored during the open house, with the Healing Room dedicated to them. All three are cancer survivors and began working together in 2012 to make their vision of creating a support network for cancer patients navigating diagnosis, treatment and spiritual well-being into a reality.

The Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine honored its founding members Sue Craib, Barb Deschenes and David Wilson by dedicating its Healing Room to them during an open house to celebrate its new location at 59 Winter Street in Norway. Pictured is Craib (left), board secretary, and Deschene, board director. Provided photo

The center provides virtual wellness programs like yoga, meditation and stress reduction. It offers a chair yoga class in Harrison and is adding another “Yoga Warriors” at Posabilities in Norway starting Sept. 24.

Recognizing that travel can be difficult for cancer patients in treatment, the center contracts with providers in western Maine communities for therapies like massage, Reiki, reflexology and yoga so patients and their caretakers can find respite close to home. The services are paid for by Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine.

The center also provides transportation and food assistance to clients through grants.

“Travel assistance is available for people who live in the area and we provide transportation for treatments,” Stone explained. “Sometime people have to go to Boston for chemo or radiation. A lot of them go to Central Maine Medical Center for services, or to Maine Med (in Portland).”

Clients also receive Hannaford gift cards. During the COVID shutdown volunteers delivered emergency baskets  to cancer patients in western Maine with household cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment and personal hygiene items.

The center has a part time oncology social worker, Stephanie LeBlond, LSW who meets with patients to access their needs while in treatment and recovery, provide assistance with health insurance and to connect them to agencies that provide heating assistance, counseling and other resources.

During the pandemic, access to services was limited to appointments. With more space now the center will start opening for drop-in visits one day a week; other days will continue to be by appointment only.

“We’ve brought about 80 new patients just this year,” said Executive Director Diane Madden. “Three or four new every week. We’ve also recently gotten referrals from Rumford and Bridgton.”

She said clients of the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine come from all over western Maine. Over the last five years residents of Albany Township, Andover, Bethel, Bridgton, Brownfield, Bryant Pond, Buckfield, Casco, Denmark, Dixfield, Fryeburg, Greene, Greenwood, Hanover, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Lewiston, Mechanic Falls, Mexico, Milton Township, Naples, Newry, North Waterford, Norway,Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Parsonfield, Patten, Peru, Poland, Rumford, South Paris, Stoneham, Sumner, Sweden, Waterford and West Paris have benefited from services provided by the center.

Madden joined the center more than two years ago but has been involved with oncology care within the MaineHealth system throughout her career, first as a radiation therapy technologist and then working in oncology administration.

“All of our services and therapies are free to cancer patients and their caregivers,” Madden said. “It’s a rural model where we connect our clients to therapists and instructors in their communities and pay the providers.

“We are unique in that Stephanie is here part-time to meet with patients about the emotional, physical or financial needs they might have – and then connect them to the appropriate resources.”

As a 501 C3 non-profit, the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine welcomes both financial and volunteer assistance. To learn more or get involved in its mission, people should visit their website at www.crcofwm.org; follow them on Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CRCWesternMaine or call (207) 890-0329.

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