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Back in the saddle: Healing from cancer



D’arcy Main-Boyington lights up when she talks about her 12-year-old trail horse, Gulliver. She describes their first meeting as being love at first sight. There is nothing she enjoys more than being out in nature with her favorite riding partner.

It was December 2016, when D’arcy was told those three words that have caused suffering for so many: “You have cancer.” Her breast cancer diagnosis affected virtually every aspect of her life, including her ability to ride Gulliver. What was her response? Combine her passion for riding with a strong desire to fight back against a disease, which had become very personal, to create the EMMC Champion the Cure Challenge Horseback Trail Ride.

Approximately 100 horses and their owners are expected to gather in Corinna on October 13 for the first-ever trail ride to support research at EMMC Cancer Care. The trail ride will build upon Champion the Cure’s signature walk/run/ride event, which will take place on August 18 in Brewer. D’arcy, a City of Brewer employee, pitched the idea for the trail ride after being contacted by EMMC Champion the Cure Challenge event organizers to discuss holding a canoe and kayak paddling event on the Brewer Waterfront.

D’arcy has had five surgeries since being diagnosed with cancer. It’s been a tough journey, but she’s well on the road to recovery. She is looking forward to warmer weather and an opportunity to ride Gulliver.

“One of the things that made it hard for me was not being able to ride my horse,” she says. “But it also has given me a reason to push really hard physically, so when the riding season comes around, I’ll be ready for it. Being able to make a difference and do something that is really important to the community makes me really happy.”

To learn more about EMMC Champion the Cure Challenge Trail Ride, or to sign up and ride with D’arcy and others, visit www.ctcchallenge.org.

Have 20 seconds to fight back against cancer? Vote for EMMC Champion the Cure Challenge!
https://emmc.org/EMMC-Champion-the-Cure-Challenge.aspx
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A health plan that supports our kids into adulthood

Danyel-Conway.jpegAnytime parents send their kids away to college, they worry about a countless number of things: Will they make friends? Will they study? Will they be healthy? 

Michelle Conway, EMHS business analyst, had those worries about her daughter, Danyel, when she left for college last year.

Michelle was especially worried about Danyel’s health, given that she has chronic health conditions, had never lived away from home, or had to worry about her own healthcare. One of the first things Danyel did was find a new preferred primary care practice close to her college campus in southern Maine. Michelle added, “When she went to her first appointment, she got introduced to Amber Lussier, a Beacon Health nurse care coordinator.”

Danyel’s health issues require that she be diligent and have occasional support. Through the EMHS Employee Health Plan, Danyel was connected with a nurse at Mercy’s Windham Family Practice. Her nurse, Amber, is a phone call away and able to guide Danyel when her stress-induced high blood pressure or asthma flare-up. Over the course of a year, the two developed a strong relationship as Danyel learned how to manage her health while living away from home. Amber is available to answer questions, suggest new ideas, get provider input, or get Danyel in for a same-day appointment if her symptoms require it. “Danyel regularly talks with Amber—it’s  like she has a friend in her primary care practice,” Michelle said.

Michelle is comforted by this service and Danyel is too. She even told her mom recently, “I’m so glad you made me be an adult and go get a doctor.” This experience will help Danyel take care of herself so that one day, when she becomes a nurse, she too can help others.
 

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A Dying Wish



Her father’s grand piano sat silently in one corner of the living room—Jini Ansheles rested peacefully in the other, surrounded by her loving family. She laid in a bed covered in deep red paisley sheets.
 
Jini was dying.
 
She chose to live her final months with the same uncompromising style and humor with which she lived her life. During those months in hospice care, she often enjoyed chocolate and champagne toasts, and happy hours with her family. On the last night of her life, Jini, at 98, was wearing earrings, pink lipstick, and Superman socks on her feet.
 
“We talked about how every woman has that ‘thing’ without which they don’t feel complete in public. For me, it’s mascara; for Ginny, it was earrings and lipstick,” explained  Amanda Carr, RN, who works for VNA Home Health Hospice, and cared for Jini. “We would laugh and smile, and have so much fun in that living room during those visits. That’s so much of what hospice is about,” Amanda explained.
 
The pair shared a love of music and Amanda would often play the piano for Jini. It was Easter Sunday, 2017, when Amanda made her last visit. Knowing that Jini was dying, Amanda brought her sheet music with her, just in case she was asked to play.
 
“They asked me, once the business of our nursing visit was over, if I would play. And I smiled and offered to get the music from the car,” recalled Amanda.
 
She played several songs, including “Vincent,” one of Amanda’s longtime favorites and one she and Jini had talked about in those earlier visits. The energy in the room was incredible. Even with fumbled notes here and there, Amanda said there wasn't a dry eye in the house. 
 
“It’s such an honor and a privilege we are granted in what we do in hospice. In music and champagne toasts, incredible people and families, and patients that share their most vulnerable—and yet strongest—moments, we often receive as much, if not more, than we give.”
 
A short time after Amanda left the house, Jini died peacefully, surrounded by her loving family. 
  
Learn more about VNA Home Health Hospice at vnahomehealth.org.

We’d like to hear your story of how your team plays a positive role in creating an exceptional patient experience. Email us at yourstory@emhs.org.