The Christine B. Foundation (CBF) is a non-profit, community-based service provider in Bangor, ME. Our mission is to build a community of support for those facing cancer. From your point of diagnosis, through treatment, and into survivorship, our staff and volunteers across Piscataquis, Penobscot, Hancock, and Washington County commit to providing no-cost services for you and your family.
|In the fall of 2021, the CBF team was introduced to an individual at their Northern Light Cancer Care pick up site. This gentleman was a caregiver to his wife, who had her first treatment that day. Quite often, the CBF team enters your life within weeks after hearing, “you have cancer”. As the social worker who made the referral stepped away, the gentleman became more and more comfortable. It became clear that the environment of a hospital was not a comforting place for him. He and his wife have been married for 30+ years, nearly inseparable.
One minute went to five than ten. The gentleman become more comfortable opening up as the CBF volunteer walked through the choices of food, building his package. He shared their financial struggle, the importance for his wife to gain weight through treatment, family and life stories, and the barriers with the transportation they had accessing care as well as treatment. An hour later it was time for the pick up site to close and the gentleman understood. As the CBF volunteer expressed support once more and reminded him to stop by next week, the gentleman thanked him and left his prepared grocery package in the lobby while he went upstairs for a moment.
When the CBF team entered the site the next day, the grocery package this individual left was still in the same spot, in the lobby, untouched. As it turned out, this gentleman’s wife had a reaction to the chemotherapy, resulting in the need to be rushed to the emergency room. Not long after, due to the stress and uncertainty, he experienced a seizure and was rushed to the emergency room as well. Immediately, the CBF team communicated with the social work department and hospital leadership and made an emergency home delivery before 12p that day.
After now having been receiving weekly home deliveries, the gentleman has shared his wife has gained 3 pounds, and thanks to the access of leafy greens and various produce, as well as Ensure Formula, they both are eating healthier. Although the nutritional value of the CNAP is demonstrated with this couple, the story reminds us of a secondary benefit. The gentleman shared with CBF afterward that “as I was having a seizure, I thought this was it.”… “But, I was reminded of all the good in this world, the comfort and conversation with the CBF volunteer that day, and how I needed to be there for my wife..that kept me from the light.”
We’ve been told by partners and patients that it is not just a box of food, but a box of soul. It is not siloed within the health care system or within a community group, rather bridging the gap among a network of service providers. Most notably, it is not a one size fits all offering, it is a tailored to the individual in the form of nutrition and continues to increase access to many seeking basic needs through cancer treatment.