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Professionals and Volunteers Honored for Dedication and Commitment


TOPSHAM, ME – The Maine Breast Health Leadership Awards were presented at the annual Silver Tea hosted by First Lady Karen Baldacci at the Blaine House in Augusta on Thursday, October 2, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year’s recipients were Chriss Hayden and Meredith Strang Burgess, both of Portland; and Anne Palmer of Belfast,—all recognized for their leadership in advocating for the breast cancer needs of Maine women.

Chriss Hayden has worked extensively with the Homeless Program in Portland to increase their awareness of breast health issues among women. She has spent countless hours building the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP) into one the nation’s leading breast screening programs for uninsured/low-income women. She dedicates her time meeting with the Somali population in both Androscoggin and Cumberland counties to learn about their culture in terms of breast health. As a result, she has produced a non-offensive, highly effective brochure that this culture of women could understand. Megan Croteau of MBCHP said, "She works tirelessly to help women in Maine understand and receive important breast health screenings. Without the innovative work she has provided for MBCHP, thousands of Maine women would not have been screened and hundreds would not have caught their breast cancer early enough."

Meredith Burgess was a member of the Maine Cancer Foundation board of directors, serving as President from 2002-2007. Through her business, Burgess Advertising, she was instrumental in improving the public’s awareness of the Foundation. She is responsible for launching the Cure Breast Cancer for ME luncheon that is held every year in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The funds raised from this event are designated for research, education, and support programs for breast cancer. In 2007, Burgess wrote, proposed, and introduced the bill that created the pink breast cancer awareness license plate that is available today. "Meredith's dedication to community service and corporate responsibility is an example for others, and proof that one person truly can make a difference," said Eileen Skinner, President and CEO of Mercy Hospital.

Anne Palmer’s leadership role in the breast health arena began in 1989; she created the Yarmouth Breast Cancer Support Group, a program that is still functioning today. She started as an American Cancer Society volunteer for the Reach to Recovery program two years later. Maureen Leary of the American Cancer Society praises Anne’s dedication, “Anne has served in almost every capacity available here at the Society; she has served in leadership positions for our fundraising events, visited newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, and planned conferences. Anne often serves as a speaker at our events-the whole gamut….with every new endeavor; she brings breast cancer to the forefront.” In addition to her contributions to the Society, she is one of the founders of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, and has represented all breast cancer survivors from Maine as an ambassador to Washington D.C. where she lobbied legislators to increase funding for cancer research.

The Maine Leadership Award for Breast Health, created in 1998, is a collaborative effort of the American Cancer Society, the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program, the Maine Cancer Foundation, the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, Maine Breast Nurse Network, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Maine. Leadership Awards are presented annually during the month of October to recognize Maine residents who have made exceptional contributions to promoting breast health, improving understanding of breast cancer, and/or working toward the elimination of the disease at the national, state, or local level.


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