News and Events

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Maine Breast Cancer Coalition Closing by the End of 2020; We Are No Longer Accepting Donations

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the future viability of our organization, the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to close MBCC by the end of 2020. 

As we go through the process of closing our organization, we are continuing to accept Support Service Fund applications for those needing financial assistance until October 30, 2020. We are funding these qualified applicants through our remaining third-quarter funds, and we are deeply grateful to all of our supporters who have made this possible! However, as of October 1, we are no longer able to accept donations to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition.

In its 20 years of existence, the Support Service Fund of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition has awarded grants totaling over $2.3 million to more than 4,500 Maine residents and for this accomplishment, we are so proud and grateful. We could not have done it without our incredibly dedicated Support Service Fund program assistant and the MBCC volunteers who have comprised the Support Service Fund committee through the years. Additionally, the generosity of our collaborative partners, granting agencies, volunteer members, business and individual fundraisers and supporters has been essential to our success and remarkable to witness.

Updated information will continue to be available on our website at as well as our Facebook page at

Again, we thank you for your partnership and for your role in the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition’s contributions to those living with and at risk for breast cancer in Maine throughout our 26 years as a coalition and the 20 years of our Support Service Fund!

DND Disc Golf Tournament Raises $5,000 for Support Service Fund!

Many thanks to our generous supporters at DND Disc Golf of Sidney. For the fourth consecutive year, they have chosen MBCC as the recipient of funds raised at their annual “Save the Tatas” benefit disc golf tournament in memory of Effie “Gram” Tillson, who passed away from breast cancer in 2014. The tournament was held on Saturday, October 3, 2020. 

They raised an amazing $5,000 for the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition’s Support Service Fund in just one day! That brings the four-year total of funds raised at the tournaments to well over $13,000! All proceeds were donated to MBCC’s Support Service Fund and will help Maine residents with unmet breast cancer or breast health related needs.

All of us at Maine Breast Cancer Coalition are grateful for the generosity of the owners of DND Disc Golf, sponsors, donors, and all those who took part in the fundraiser! 

Read more about the event at DND Disc Golf’s Facebook page.

Group Photo: Back, left to right---Carol Beagan, MBCC Treasurer; Tammy Tillson; Kaitlyn Longley; Liz Tusing, MBCC Secretary and Fundraisers Coordinator. Front: Abigail Tillson, Lillian Tillson

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Borman Family Foundation Awards Grant for Support Service Fund

The Borman Family Foundation of Oakland, Maine has awarded a $2,000 grant to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition's Support Service Fund. The Borman Family Foundation has been a long-term supporter of MBCC over the years. We are especially grateful for the grant at this difficult time during the pandemic. Many thanks to the Borman Family Foundation.

MBCC President Bethany Zell Receives the Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award

Maine Breast Cancer Coalition President Bethany Zell was recently recognized for her volunteerism and advocacy as a recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award. Congratulations! Read more on the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition's Facebook page here.


MBCC President Bethany Zell Presents at 2020 NBCC Virtual Summit

On May 21, 2020, Maine Breast Cancer Coalition President Bethany Zell presented on the topic of breast cancer advocacy in the digital age during the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s virtual #NBCCSummit.

Normally, Bethany and other advocates from Maine travel to Washington, DC in May to participate in the annual training Summit and Lobby Day, where they meet with Maine’s congressional members or their staff. Although lobby day meetings were held virtually this year, advocates from Maine still met with Maine’s delegation to discuss legislative priorities that would positively impact research for a breast cancer vaccine as well as supports and resources for those living with and at risk for breast cancer. #NBCCOnTheHill


Help researchers learn why some people live with metastatic breast cancer for a long time

Some people live for many years following a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. To gain insight into why, researchers want to learn more about the medical history and health habits of women and men living with metastatic breast cancer. If you take part in this study, you will complete an online survey that will ask you questions about diet, exercise, health behaviors and medical care.

Some participants who fill out the survey will also be invited to participate in an optional sub-study, which includes a medical record review, a blood or saliva sample, and tumor analysis. Findings from the survey and optional sub-study may help the research team discover how to help people live longer after a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.

The study is recruiting internationally women and men age 18 or older who have been diagnosed with metastatic (or stage IV) breast cancer. Click here to learn more or to join the study.

Free Wig Program for African American Women With Treatment-Related Hair Loss

The core of the African American Wigs’ mission is to assist as many women, an underserved demographic, as they can, through their Free Wig Program. AAW's goal is to give others hope and make them feel beautiful and whole. The program offers a supportive hand during an already troubling time.

AAW states, "Our wish is that our recipients hear the words 'you are cancer free' from their doctors and continue on their life journey." Visit the AAW website for more information or to submit an application.

Dr. Susan Love Responds to Recent Breast Cancer Vaccine Media Reports

Dr. Susan Love, of the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, has provided excellent clarification on some recent breast cancer vaccine articles. Read her press release, "Behind the Hype: Breast Cancer Vaccine" here

Click here to read about the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Artemis Project, which was referenced in Dr. Susan Love's press release.

The Pink Fund

The Pink Fund
 is a non-profit breast cancer organization that provides 90-day non-medical cost-of-living expenses to breast cancer patients in active treatment for breast cancer, so they can focus on healing, raising their families, and returning to the workplace. Find out more.

$2,000,000 In Eighteen Years: A Support Service Fund Milestone


October, 2018

October, “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, is a time to reflect on the impact that breast cancer has on the lives of many Maine residents. The need for research leading to eradication of this disease is urgent. But there is also a need to take action to assist those currently dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis or in need of breast health services. The Maine Breast Cancer Coalition’s Support Service Fund strives to fill this need for Maine residents.

For the past eighteen years, the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition’s Support Service Fund has been an important “safety net” program for Maine people needing breast health or breast cancer related assistance and who have nowhere else to turn. This month marks an important milestone for the Fund: During the past eighteen years we have helped more than four thousand Maine residents with a total of more than $2,000,000 in grant awards. Read more.

Maine Breast Cancer Support License Plate Celebrates 10 Years, $3M Raised for Cancer Programs

Monday, October 1, 2018 Press Release 

AUGUSTA, Maine—Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap today announced the 10-year anniversary of the initial release of Maine Breast Cancer Support specialty license plate, which raises funds to combat breast cancer in Maine. 


The plates were first made available to the public on October 1, 2008. Today, there are 25,002 of these “pink ribbon” plates on the road, which have raised $3,141,385, with more than $2,950,047 going to the Breast Cancer Support Services Fund over the past 10 years.


“I am proud that the State of Maine has been a leader in the fight against breast cancer. It’s nearly impossible to find someone whose life has not been touched by cancer, whether they’ve experienced it personally or through the journey of a family member, friend or coworker. And that’s probably why this plate is so popular,” said Secretary Dunlap. “The pink ribbon license plates have allowed Mainers in every community to make their voice heard and to contribute to this ongoing battle. The funds raised by these plates make a difference in people’s lives throughout the state.”

Read more.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act

Access to quality care for all remains the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) priority. While we fight for that goal, one of NBCC’s highest legislative priorities this year is to enact legislation to waive the 24-month waiting period for Medicare eligibility and the 5-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for individuals with metastatic breast cancer who qualify for social security disability. Read more.

In Loving Memory of Carmen Darkis

by Bethany Zell, Maine Breast Cancer Coalition President
May 16, 2018

The Maine Breast Cancer Coalition is heartbroken at the recent loss of long-time volunteer member, Carmen Darkis. When Carmen was 19 years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away at the age of 62, just four short years later. It was at this time that cancer changed Carmen’s life forever.  

Carmen’s connection to breast cancer became personal when she was diagnosed in 1988. Carmen had a mastectomy and soon after surgery, joined the support group “Encore” at the YWCA. In her own words “the support group helped me cope, educated me about my cancer, enabled me to make new friendships…It was very much a learning experience for me and I wasn’t afraid anymore to talk about breast cancer. It also helped me cope with life at my workplace.”

In 1993, Carmen was again diagnosed, this time with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and despite being in constant treatment, in 1998 she decided that it was time to stop talking about breast cancer and do something about it. She signed up as a volunteer member of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC). During her 20 years as a faithful MBCC advocate and volunteer, Carmen was actively involved in the work of the Coalition. For 12 years, she held the office of secretary, and when the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition established our Support Service Fund in 2000, Carmen - passionate about the mission to help financially assist women and men who were diagnosed with breast cancer or had other breast health related needs - jumped in with both feet. She found great fulfillment in sitting on the Support Service Fund Committee which oversaw that fund - right up until metastatic breast cancer robbed her from us earlier this month. 

During her time with the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, Carmen made three trips to the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Advocate Conference in Washington, D.C. and lobbied on Capitol Hill to encourage Maine’s congressional delegation to enact policies impactful to the lives of those living with and at risk of breast cancer.

In 2012, Carmen was the recipient of the "Lifetime Inspiration Award", awarded by the Maine Cancer Foundation to "an individual who has achieved success above and beyond the ordinary in the fight against breast cancer in Maine." She was nominated by long-time friend, Robin Long of Caring Connections at the Bangor Y. Robin had this to say when she nominated Carmen in 2012: “For close to 20 years Carmen has been on some kind of breast cancer treatment. I find her inspirational because, in her own words, ‘I don't let the cancer live my life, I live my life because I love being alive.’ In spite of being in treatment almost continously for the last two decades, she has done the things she enjoys. She is always willing to speak with someone who has been newly diagnosed with metastatic disease, providing a postive and hopeful message.”

This is just who Carmen was…positive…hopeful…strong. Even though she had no idea where her strength came from, she was a miracle who beat the odds (and 3-year average life expectancy for being diagnosed stage 4 metastatic) by living with metastatic breast cancer for 25 years. She didn’t just live, she thrived. She was actively involved in our work right up until the very end and will be greatly missed when we convene for our next face-to-face meeting in June. There is no doubt that looking ahead, much of our MBCC mission will be compelled forward under the motivation of being “for Carmen.” 

Finally, we would like to leave you with a message to anyone out there who has been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer from Carmen herself: “Because there are so many different kinds of breast cancers, everybody is so different. What is right for one woman might not be right for another. Communicate with your oncologist. Let him/her know how you feel and be your own advocate or if you can’t, let a family member be one for you. I believe that everyone should live their life one day at a time and to the fullest, and always remember that quality of life means more than quantity.” Carmen fully embodied this message every single day of her life – before and after her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis - and we will continue to carry on our mission in her memory and honor.

Breast Cancer Survivors Needed for Peer-based Exercise Research Program: Moving Forward Together 3

The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is offering breast cancer survivors still less than five years from diagnosis to take part in a great research opportunity. Participants must be finished with all chemo and radiation and will need your physician to sign off on your participation. Find out more here.

Open Arms Support Group

Open Arms Support Group is a non-profit organization of women helping newly diagnosed breast cancer patients navigate through the process of healing and surviving. Groups meet at the Carol Strauss Conference Room, St. Joseph Hospital, 360 Broadway, Bangor.

For information call 207-478-0388 or email Brooke Ismail at

In Loving Memory of Penny McKenna

In 2012, Penny McKenna joined the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition as a volunteer member. She often represented the Coalition at health fair events and served as the Vice President of our Coalition from January 2015 until she had to step down in late 2016 when her health declined as a result of her breast cancer.

The members of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition were heartbroken to hear that Penny died on Saturday, July 22, 2017, at the Androscoggin Hospice House, after living with metastatic breast cancer for several years. We are so thankful for the time we spent with Penny and for her dedication to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition. We extend our deepest condolences to Penny's husband, Kevin, her son, Chris, stepdaughter, Kate, and all of her extended family and friends.

We were all very blessed to have known her and will continue to advocate for all those living with and at risk of breast cancer to honor her memory.

You may read the obituary and leave condolence messages here

Demand Equal Access to Lymphedema Treatment

We need to fix a critical gap in insurance coverage for lymphedema treatment. Ask your members of Congress to cosponsor the Lymphedema Treatment Act.

Currently, Medicare and many private insurance policies fail to cover the costs of the daily compression supplies people with lymphedema need to control their swelling. People who can’t afford these supplies are left with worsening lymphedema, which can lead to infections and even long-term disability.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act would end this injustice by changing Medicare law to cover compression supplies—setting an important precedent for Medicaid and other insurers to do the same. Read more.

Have Lots of Returnable Bottles and Cans?

Please show your support for the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition by donating the proceeds from your returnable bottles and cans to MBCC through the Hannaford CLYNK program.

It's easy as 1-2-3 to take part! Read more.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Project

Help transform our understanding of metastatic breast cancer.
If you have metastatic breast cancer, join a nationwide movement of patients, doctors, and scientists by sharing your tumor samples, your medical information, and your voice. Together, we can speed the development of future therapies.

Sign up or learn more at For a printable one-page information sheet, click here.

Cleaning For a Reason

Cleaning For A Reason is a nonprofit organization that serves the United States and Canada. Services are currently available in the Portland, Maine area. Their mission is to give the gift of free house cleaning for women undergoing treatment for any type of cancer. Their goal is to let these brave and strong women focus on their health and treatment while they focus on, and take away the worry and work of, cleaning their homes– free of charge. Find out more at

Breast Cancer Freebies

Help for the body, soul, and pocketbook---when you need it most!
The Breast Cancer Freebies website provides information and links to many organizations "whose mission it is to make the breast cancer journey a little easier and take the burden off your wallet with free wigs, hats, make-up, house cleaning, transportation, and more."

SHARE: No-cost Services For Women Facing Breast or Ovarian Cancer

SHARE is a non-profit organization for women facing breast and ovarian cancer. Because a cancer diagnosis can be so overwhelming, SHARE makes it their mission to provide support services to those affected by these potentially fatal diseases. 

All services are free of charge. SHARE provides telephone support, support groups, educational programs, and advocacy activities. 

TOLL-FREE HELPLINE: 844-ASK-SHARE (844-275-7427) is committed to bringing today’s most pressing local, national, and global health issues to the forefront of public discourse. They recently published a summary report of the state of cancer in America. From the report: "Although cancer takes many forms, there are four that claim the lives of over a quarter of a million Americans every year: breast, prostate, lung, and colon/rectum." 

Click here to view's guide and short animated video, Cancer in America.

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Health of Women Study

The Health Of Women (HOW) Study is a first-of-its-kind international online study for women and men with and without a history of breast cancer.

The Study is being conducted at the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, in collaboration with City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Click here to join the HOW Study or find out more. 

One Million Women :: One Research Goal :: One Revolutionary Opportunity

working for a future without breast cancer 
It's been eight years since the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Avon Foundation launched the Army of Women, a groundbreaking initiative that partners women with breast cancer researchers to find the key to what causes breast cancer and take science beyond a cure to prevention. 


An Important Resource for Maine Women

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) seeks to create greater access to health care by getting more people covered by insurance. For women who have purchased coverage on the Marketplace or other privately purchased plans, but continue to be burdened by premiums, deductibles and co-pays that prevent them from receiving breast cancer screening services, the Maine CDC Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP) can be a valuable resource for women needing breast and/or cervical cancer screening and follow-up services.