Maine Health Tumor Raiders Team Together For Relay For Life
On June 1st, the American Cancer Society of Greater Portland will hold it's annual Relay For Life event at South Portland High School in South Portland. There will be several teams participating in this year's event, which raises money to end the battle against cancer. One of those teams is "Maine Health Tumor Raiders," led by co-captains Tracy Watts and Amber O'Leary.
Watts has been oncology nurse for more than three decades. While she is now a navigator for melanoma and skin cancer patients, and she carries memories from many patients with her every day.
“I’ve learned so much from my patients over the years including priorities like live life, don’t procrastinate, and count your blessings daily,” said Watts.
Watts, a cutaneous oncology nurse navigator at MaineHealth and Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute in Portland, and her fellow oncology nurse Amber O’Leary have been heading up the Relay For Life of Greater Portland team MaineHealth Tumor Raiders, which includes other colleagues.
“My father-in-law was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma the same week I found out I was pregnant with our oldest daughter 24 years ago. He passed away 12 hours before she was born. His cancer journey lasted the same length as my pregnancy which is bittersweet to say the least. But, we always say that our daughter has a special guardian angel,” said Watts.
The team was formed by patient navigators at MaineHealth who wanted to get in closer touch with the community. Leading into the June 1 event, they are among the top teams for fundraising. Their fundraisers this year include a bake sale at MaineHealth’s Scarborough campus and a pint night at Gritty’s in Freeport. Using social media and the American Cancer Society’s FUNdraising app have been critical, they said.
Watts and O’Leary have both walked in Relay For Life in other states and came away energized. They enjoyed the involvement of patients, families, health care professionals and community agencies in a fun environment away from the hospital, treatment room or radiology suite.
“The positive energy and sense of hope is palpable,” Watts explained.